As the offseason began, and the Miami Dolphins began their search for a new head coach - eventually hiring the Green Bay Packers' offensive coordinator Joe Philbin for the position - many fans grew more frustrated with the lack of media availability of team executives. Most of this frustration was targeted at general manager Jeff Ireland, who fans expected to see speaking to the media, defining what the team was doing, and telling everyone what the next step was. This frustration led to fans pointing to other GMs who speak with the media throughout the season, while Ireland was seen as hiding from any public comments - with most of those reactions linking Ireland's lack of press conferences to his inability to properly run the team.
But, in reality, it's a team policy - and one that looks to continue despite the regime change - that limits who speaks to the media when. The team calls it the "One Voice" policy, and they stand by the policy.
Earlier this week, Philbin, Ireland, and Dolphins CEO Mike Dee toured several of the newspaper offices in the Miami area, speaking about the team, the future, and the One Voice Policy. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, when the three were at their offices, Ireland explained:
"I do believe in a One Voice policy. The voice of the team is the most important one I'm worried about. Someone needs to be talking to the team, the players, and that needs to be coming from the head coach during the season. I don't want to go back on what maybe the coach has told the team and I'm out at Stanford and some reporter calls me.
"I want the message to come from the head coach. That's his expertise. He's the coach of the football team, and that's where I want the voice to come from. "
When asked if his lack of availability during the season could be related to shyness, or his desire to stay out of the media's spotlight, Ireland continued:
"It's not that I don't like talking to [the media]. That's not it at all. I just think the message needs to come from the head coach during that time. And when it comes to the acquisition and the procurement of players during the offseason, that's my expertise and that's where I'll usually talk about those type of things.
"I think there's a little bit more flexibility during the offseason. The head coach has opportunities to talk about the state of the football team [such as the NFL owners meetings in March]. We haven't talked about who's talking at Indy [home of the Combine], but I could foresee the head coach talking at Indy and talking about where he sees the football team, where in the past that's just been me.
"So we're open to new things. I see this as a new regime. For me to be open during the football season talking about our team, I believe - and I think Joe would agree with me - that needs to be the voice of the head coach."
Currently, Ireland conducts media availability at the annual Senior Bow, the NFL Scouting Combine, and before and after the NFL Draft. Other than those times, all Dolphins messages have come from former head coach Tony Sparano, and that policy is expected to continue with Philbin in the head coach position.
When the Sun Sentinel as Philbin for his view on the policy, the new head coach responded:
"I think he's on the right track."
So, despite the media availability of the last few days, fans should not get used to seeing Ireland speaking to the media very often. The team will look to continue using Philbin as its most often spokesman - and face of the franchise.