The sudden announcement that Dolphins V.P. of football operations Bill Parcells has shifted from V.P. of football operations to a consulting position raises many questions — and also confirms what many believed when G.M. Jeff Ireland was hired away from the Cowboys.
As to that point, the Dolphins were able to hire Ireland because the Dolphins supposedly gave Ireland final say over all football decisions. But few folks who “get it” believed that Ireland actually got that level of authority. By announcing today that Ireland “will assume full control over all aspects and decisions in regard to the Miami Dolphin football team and support staff,” the Dolphins essentially admitted that he didn’t possess such power previously, which suggests that the Dolphins lured Ireland from Dallas under false pretenses.
So why did Parcells slide into a new role now, only five days before the first regular-season game of the year? For starters, keep in mind that Parcells’ contract, which runs through 2011, allows him to leave at any time and to collect the balance of his salary — and also to go work for someone else. As we’ve heard it, Parcells was reluctant to make a complete and total exit, since that would have exposed Ireland and coach Tony Sparano to the likely arrival of Carl Peterson as the new head of the football operations. Peterson and owner Stephen Ross already have a friendship and a business relationship, via the in-stadium video device known previously as Kangaroo TV and now known as GameDay Vision.
If Peterson had arrived as the new boss, Peterson eventually would have wanted to hire his own G.M. and his own head coach, just as Parcells did when he took over in 2008. As a result, Ireland and Sparano would have been auditioning to stick around for a guy who wouldn’t have been inclined to keep them.
With Parcells leaving but also staying, Ireland and Sparano can audition for Ross without Peterson or anyone else serving as the filter. If the Dolphins do well under Ireland and Sparano, Ross could decide that he doesn’t need Peterson or anyone else to take over the team.
Meanwhile, Parcells gets to partially exercise his shrewdly-crafted cash-and-carry clause, reducing his duties but still getting paid full freight. And who knows? If the Dolphins finish deep in the playoffs this year, Parcells could cut the cord completely and go work for someone else, confident that Ireland and Sparano won’t be run off by Parcells’ successor.
Fundamentally, then, we believe Parcells’ decision was less about Parcells making a money grab and more about Parcells trying to help Ireland and Sparano stay with the team after Parcells has made his exit. And it demonstrates the kind of loyalty that has become more the exception than the rule in pro and college sports.