Dolphins' GM hiring raised more questions than hope

Dennis Hickey is Miami Dolphins' new general manager after so many others backed away

Perkins report: Miami Dolphins hire new GM

That's it? That's the way the Dolphins hire a general manager? They keep going down the list until someone says, "Yes?"

Let's see, one candidate declined a second interview to stay with an awful Cleveland franchise. Another rejected the offered promotion and more money to return to rival New England.

A third candidate, Lake Dawson from Tennessee, said, "I turned it down because it wasn't an ideal fit for my family and me." That really hurt. That's our line. Stan Van Gundy first dropped the "family" card years ago in leaving the Heat.

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  • Poll: What do you think of the Dennis Hickey hire?

    Cast your vote!

    • Good job. Ireland is gone and that subtraction is enough of an addition for the franchise
    • I don't know. It's a little worrisome that a franchise as underwhelming as Tampa Bay had 18 years to look at the guy, and made no effort to consider him for THEIR GM opening
    • This is brutal. Steve Ross, yet again, can't get anywhere near his first choice and looks clueless in handling the football operation.
  • Does Ross understand GM is most important hire? Does Ross understand GM is most important hire?

So it falls to Dennis Hickey to be the new Dolphins general manager. He was Tampa Bay's pro personnel director. He also was reportedly on the verge of being fired in a front-office purge in Tampa.


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Hickey isn't today's story, though. Maybe he's great. Maybe he's a star awaiting this opportunity. You can wish him luck and godspeed while wondering about the contorted process that brought him here.

"Not one, not two, not three …" takes on a new context in town given this GM search.

Hickey is either the fourth or eighth choice for the job, depending on how you tally up the rejection notices. And let's be honest about this in a way the Dolphins' inner circle doesn't seem to be: It starts at the top.

Dolphins owner Steve Ross is a good man, and a genius businessman, but his football judgment is flawed and questionable and not getting any better with time.

In past years, he was offered lessons for what was wrong when Jim Harbaugh, Peyton Manning and Jeff Fisher rebuffed him for various jobs and various reasons. Those obvious lessons didn't take.

This time, Ross was rejected in a repeated and embarrassing way that further damages the Dolphins brand and, worse, makes you wonder if this franchise will ever get out of the wilderness even with a decent talent base.

"Stephen [Ross] is a great owner, passionate and wants to win, but the details of the offer didn't align with my vision," Dawson told The Tennessean.

Attach that thought with other ideas assigned to those who declined the job and the common denominator is the management structure Ross presented. The candidates saw it as flawed. Or they saw coach Joe Philbin as flawed.

New England's Nick Caserio and Dawson wanted the authority to fire Philbin. Ross denied that. The owner said he would be the final arbiter on Philbin. And so those two candidates turned down the offered job and returned to their prospective teams. The bottom line: They didn't trust Philbin with their careers.

Hickey will have full authority in shaping the 53-man roster. Senior Vice President of Football Operations Dawn Aponte, who is the team's salary-cap authority, will report to the new GM, too.

Aponte has made it abundantly clear she has no interest in running a draft, evaluating players or deciding who is on the 53-man roster. She considers her role as a facilitator to help the coach and GM concentrate on winning.

The easiest idea for Ross would be to have cleaned house completely. Instead, he stuck with Philbin and Aponte, and that seems to have cost him some top candidates. And not just the ones who have walked away the past few days.

The strongest batch of prospective candidates — ones like Hickey's former boss in Tampa Bay, general manager Mark Dominik — didn't even consider the job.

On Sunday afternoon, the Super Bowl teams arrived in New York. Meanwhile, the Dolphins did their normal January dance of off-field news. Two years ago, Ross decided it was the GM who stayed and the coach who left. Now it's the reverse. Rinse. Repeat.

There's always the chance this works. When so many football people with inside knowledge of this situation turned down a job that was a clear promotion and more money, you wonder how good a chance this is. But Dolphins fans are accustomed to small hope of late.

Two years ago, I sat in Ross' office as he talked of how hard it was to take losing. He told how people stayed away from him on Monday. He said he needed an Ambien to fall asleep. He said, "You never want to learn to accept losing."

That's a good philosophy for an owner. So is the idea of learning to create a winner. That's a lesson you wonder if Ross has learned with this strange general manager's search providing the latest evidence.

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