One of the most bizarre weeks I can recall any professional sports organization going through came to a close - albeit an odd close - on Saturday when the Dolphins hosted a "media roundtable discussion" in a board room at the team's headquarters in Davie. In attendance were owner Stephen Ross, general manager Jeff Ireland, and head coach Tony Sparano. What did we learn? Perhaps most importantly, the rumored two year contract extension for Sparano was confirmed. Tony's contract now runs through the 2013 season.
Other than that, though, we learned that Stephen Ross has a lot to learn about being an NFL owner and that Jeff Ireland is not a guy you can trust if you work for him. We also received confirmation that Tony Sparano will be spending the next week or so searching for a new offensive coordinator - perhaps the best news of all to come out of this little circus.
A few thoughts before closing the book on this really ridiculous past week and moving forward.
Ross clearly still learning the ropes of NFL ownership
Can a smart businessman like Stephen Ross - a guy who was made billions of dollars - really be this stupid? Probably not. And I'm not buying this act Ross is putting on. Unless he's the dumbest smart person alive, Ross attempted to pull the wool over our eyes on Saturday.
About his trip out west to meet with Jim Harbaugh, Ross told us that no contract offer was ever made - or even discussed. I'll take him at his word about that. But there's no way the man could not have known how big of a story it would become.
"Not until after I read the newspapers did I realize the anguish I'd put Tony through," said Ross. "I'm not familiar with going through this process, but I never thought it would be national news."
"I was a little naive. Looking back, I can tell you I shouldn't be talking to any coaches, seeking a replacement, until I've decided that I needed to make a change."
Ross made it a point to stress how "naive" he was about this whole process. And I'm not buying that at all. There's no way Ross did not realize how flying across the country with his GM to meet the hottest head coaching candidate in the NFL at the time would be huge national news.
Ross also claimed that nobody in the organization - including himself and Jeff Ireland - spoke with Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden. But let's be 100% real for a minute. There are two trains of thought here. One - Ross is being rather disingenuous here. Maybe nobody actually spoke to Cowher or Gruden. But if the Dolphins reached out to either of those two's representation, that counts as speaking with the actual coaching candidate. And several reports stand by their sources that the Dolphins did indeed contact bot Cowher's and Gruden's representation.
But if you actually believe Ross and don't think the Dolphins ever reached out to Cowher or Gruden, then there's a second train of thought here: why the hell not? If you are willing to fly across the country to speak with Harbaugh, isn't it your responsibility to do your due diligence and at least speak with two of the most accomplished NFL head coaches currently available?
It's clear after this past week that Stephen Ross still has a lot to learn about being an owner.
I'm now 100% in Sparano's corner
If Stephen Ross and Jeff Ireland were trying to help Tony Sparano gain the support of the team's fanbase again, then their master plan might have worked. I've been bombarded on twitter with messages from fans who now are supporting Sparano because of how mistreated he was by his superiors.
And I, too, feel the same way.
For all of his faults as head coach, Sparano did not deserve to be left in limbo for a week while his bosses flew out west to meet with the hottest head coaching prospect in the country - without even being informed of the meeting. The man was pissed off. I don't blame him, either.
"The communication problems, I felt like at the time, had it been said right away, that would have been fine and I would have been able to deal with it," Sparano said. "I do think the communication end of things that both Jeff and Steve alluded to could have been handled different."
You could clearly see the anger and resentment in Tony's eyes at Saturday's press gathering. You could feel Tony's anger and resentment whenever he forced himself to look in Ross' direction. And he never really even glanced at Jeff Ireland.
To Tony's credit, though, he seemed ready to move on and get back to the business at hand - turning the Miami Dolphins into annual contenders.
"When we walk in this building, I tell my football team every single day that we don't place blame," said Sparano. "That isn't what we're trying to do. We're trying to solve problems. We don't place blame. We solve problems."
And speaking of his players, how do you think they feel about Tony's return? According to Sparano, most of them are clearly behind him. Tony informed us on Saturday that he received almost 50 text messages from his players letting him know they support him.
Any thought about Tony losing credibility inside that Miami locker room should be thrown out. If anything, most players will rally around their embattled head coach. And hopefully most fans will as well.