Four years ago, the Dolphins were able to hire Jeff Ireland away from the Cowboys by giving Ireland final say over the roster and the draft. No one believed that Ireland actually had that authority; it widely was suspected that former V.P. of football operations Bill Parcells ultimately called the shots, and that the team put in the contract whatever had to be put in the contract in order to bogart Ireland from the ‘Boys.
A year later, something similar occurred in Cleveland, where the team hired coach Eric Mangini and then brought George Kokinis from Baltimore, with Kokinis getting final say in writing but many believing that Mangini still had the power, as a practical matter.
The same dynamic could be coming in St. Louis. On Saturday, Charley Casserly of CBS reported that the Rams have made no final decision on the exact authority that coach Jeff Fisher will have, but that it’s not an issue because Fisher will have major input regarding the selection of the next General Manager.
Fisher, according to Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports and Adam Schefter of ESPN, spurned the Dolphins because owner Stephen Ross refused to strip final say from Ireland, a man whom Schefter says Fisher would have been interested in hiring as the G.M. in St. Louis, if Ireland were available. And now we’re to believe that Fisher instead chose a situation where he may not have final say over the guy who is hired to serve as General Manager, even if Fisher’s input on the hire ultimately is rejected by management?
In our view, it’s a shell game, aimed at allowing the Rams to import from another front office a guy who currently doesn’t possess final say. Unless the Rams hire someone who currently isn’t employed, whose contract has expired, or whom his current team no longer wants, the Rams will have to give the next G.M. final say in order to hire him away from his current team, even if the next G.M. will essentially do with that final say whatever Fisher tells him to do.
Here’s hoping that the league office slams the door on this kind of sham. But we won’t hold our breath. Fisher spent the last year embedded in the league office, helping the Competition Committee and otherwise aiding the Commissioner. If the league ever addresses this fairly significant loophole when it comes to front-office maneuverings, it won’t happen until after Fisher and the Rams slip through it.