May 15, 1989 became a bitter-sweet day for the Miami Dolphins. On that day, Chuck Connor, the Director of Player Personnel, resigned from the team to take the Director of Pro Scouting position with the Atlanta Falcons. Connor had been with the team for 11 seasons.
Connor's family had remained in Stone Mountain, Georgia, just outside Atlanta, during his time with the Dolphins. In the Dolphins' announcement of the move, then Head Coach Don Shula said, "I'm certainly sorry to see Chuck go, but I can understand Chuck wanting to be closer to his family."
Perhaps the key event in Connor's time with the Dolphins was the selection of Dan Marino in 1983. The Dolphins did not expect to land Marino, despite Shula wanting him. Connor had told Shula flat out, there was no chance Marino would last all the way to the Dolphins with the 27th overall pick that year.
After watching quarterback John Elway, Todd Blackledge, Tony Eason, and Jim Kelly be selected, the the Dolphins only had one team looking to draft a quarterback ahead of them. As David Hyde in the Sun-Sentinel wrote last month:
The Jets took Cal-Davis quarterback Ken O'Brien.
"Who's he?" Shula asked Connor.
Shula wasn't kidding. He studied the five quarterbacks the Dolphins thought were first-round talents. O'Brien wasn't among them. He had a good career, even being the NFL's highest-rated quarterback in 1985.
"We were delighted when they didn't take Marino," Shula said.
The next two teams, Cincinnati and Oakland, weren't in the market for a quarterback. Marino's phone rang.
"We're thinking about taking you," Connor told Marino. "Can you talk to coach Shula?"
"Do you feel good about being a Dolphin?" Shula said. "Coach, I'd be really excited," Marino said. "I'm looking forward to it."
Connor was wrong in that Marino would not last to the Dolphins' pick. I think he was okay with that.
Six years later, he would leave Miami for a chance to work in the organization closest to the family. Like Coach Shula said, he was missed within the Dolphins, but the move made sense for him.