It’s time for Stephen Ross to move to Miami or sell the team

AP

When I met Dolphins owner Stephen Ross a couple of years ago, he smiled (sort of) and said, “You’re the guy who writes those things about me.” And now I’m going to write one of those things about him again.

What I’m writing now about Stephen Ross is actually a positive, even if it may seem on the surface to be negative.

The time has come for Ross to roll up his sleeves and preside over the football team he owns.

A generation ago, Ross — who live and works in New York — tried to buy the Jets. Woody Johnson won the bidding. Ross later purchased the Dolphins from Wayne Huizenga, becoming the majority owner in 2009. Ross continued to live and work in New York.

Since then, coincidentally or not, the Dolphins haven’t made it to the playoffs.  Heck, the Dolphins haven’t even had a winning season since Ross became the owner.

After Monday night’s loss, which eliminated the Dolphins from postseason contention, interim coach Dan Campbell said, “I’ve been here six years and nothing has gone the way we wanted it to be.”

“I hate to be in this situation again but it seems like it’s the same thing every year,” added center Mike Pouncey, a first-round pick in 2011.

It’s either the same thing every year by happenstance, or for a reason. Since Ross became the owner, players, coaches, General Managers, and executive vice presidents of football operations have changed. Ross is the one constant.

And he’s an absentee landlord, the cat who is always away while the mice are fighting among themselves. The hiring of Dan Marino to essentially babysit the front office and then of Mike Tannenbaum to oversee it hasn’t changed anything yet. There’s a good chance nothing will change it until the owner: (1) moves to Miami; and (2) shows up at the facility every day.

Here’s an unmistakable truth regarding the modern NFL: Owners who live and work in the cities where their teams are located love competing against owners who don’t. That alone should be enough to get Ross to load up the truck and move to Hy-a-lee. (Ah.)

Or, alternatively, it should get Ross to admit that it’s impossible for a billionaire who built a billion-dollar real-estate business that he still runs in New York to treat his billion-dollar sports acquisition as a casual investment or a hobby. The players, the coaches, the front office, and the fans of every NFL team deserve an owner who is all in.

If Ross isn’t willing to do that, Ross should sell the team to another billionaire who is.

That’s not to say Ross should be involved in football decisions. He needs to trust the people with the expertise whom he has hired to make those decisions. But it’s one thing to hire them, to trust them, and to be there to observe and to assist and to lend active oversight to tasks falling within the owner’s skill set. It’s quite another for the owner to throw the keys into the middle of the room, walk out the door, and ignore the ensuing scrum.

101 responses to “It’s time for Stephen Ross to move to Miami or sell the team

  1. It’s a fine balance to strike. Absenteeism doesn’t work, but neither did Snyder’s approach of leaping at players out if their lockers and popping up suddenly in the back seats of their cars during a late night drive home.

  2. Chiefs owner lives in KC and they haven’t won a playoff game since the early 90’s, should he sell too? Shad hasn’t moved 100% to Jacksonville, should he sell too? Self made billionaires have the ability to own businesses worldwide that’s why they’re billionaires.

  3. An owner does need to be involved at some level for a team to be successful but its got to be the right kind of involvement.

    Look at Jerrah Jones, one of the worst owners in the history of the NFL, and what his close involvement with the team over 20 years has done to the cowboys.

    The owner has to hire the right management team, make them accountable and stay out of the day to day management of the team. He doesn’t need to live at the team’s facility.

  4. This sounds like Stan Kroenke, no presence in STL at all and treats the team as a hobby or casual investment, Stan needs to sell the Rams to a local owner and wait for Denver.

  5. Wait. Ross tried to buy the Jets? Then bought Miami?

    First off, what person does that? I mean, it’s not like he tried to buy the Jags first and then went with another Florida team. He tried to buy the division rival Jets.

    Is this man even a fan of the Dolphins? Because things are starting to finally make sense now that I know he tried to buy the Jets first. I honestly do not think he cares about winning. I think this is just a business for him. I really hope he sells this team. He has made it horrible.

  6. Ross is a lousy owner but not because of where he lives. If he was in Miami coming into the offices every single day then this story would be about how the problem was him meddling. But he lives far away so the article is about how he’s not involved enough. I’d argue they’re actually better off with him not being around because the only thing worse than a bad owner at a distance is one close up.

  7. That’s ridiculous! In this day and age it is not necessary to be in the same geographic locale as the enterprise you are managing. It is necessary to hire competent people and to provide oversight of them as necessary. A man who is a billionaire certainly must have this expertise, but may be missing the necessary interest in providing the oversight. If that’s missing, he should sell, as no change in location will substitute for it or correct the lack of it.

  8. Who cares where he is. There are magical things called a telephones and computers which allow you to communicate instantaneously around the world. He can also get on his private jet for important meetings.

  9. He should sell the team. He has been a total disaster and is clueless. I live in Miami use to have season tickets.
    He should of fired Ireland with Sparano but he does everything half a $$ . He needs to clean house get rid of Tannebaum, Hickey and everyone.

  10. Remember when the conventional wisdom was that the best players wanted to play in Miami and not in cold weather locations like Green bay and Foxboro and that gave the Dolphins a competitive advantage?

  11. As a Redskins fan I would love nothing more than for Dan Snyder to be an absentee owner. Well, on second thought, I’d love nothing more than for him to sell the team, but being an absentee owner is a close 2nd. I am positive I am not the only Redskins fan who feels that way.

  12. The absentee landlord comparison is a good one.
    You could also use the analogy of a slumlord in this case.

  13. I don’t see how residency begets successful ownership. Did you say the same about Ralph Wilson? Dumb football decisions sure do make for a winning team. Suh and his contract? Plenty of teams make the same mistakes and have losing teams year after year for the exact same reasons, whether their owner is present 100% of the time or not. It’s presumptuous of any of us to assume we know a better way of running a billion dollar business than any person who’s previously built a billion dollar business. Throw another noodle against the wall-it could be your next blog entry.

  14. Totally disagree.

    This is about one thing and one thing only: Ross’ inability to hire the right people even if his life depended on it. That skill won’t improve regardless of his zip code.

    The Dolphins will remain in this cycle of mediocrity as long as Ross owns the team and continues to hire stiffs who hire more stiffs….. regardless of where he lives.

    More than large enough body of work over the last seven years to see that he has no idea what he’s doing. Makes no difference where he hangs his hat.

  15. San Diego has even better weather than Miami (alas, no South Beach) and they have fared no better than the Dolphins over the last 25 years. LA can’t even support a team, but the NFL will force the issue anyway. Given the track record of the Patriots, the Steelers, and the Packers (and the Giants) it looks like the NFL is dominated by teams well above the Mason-Dixon line with the ravens, who are just south of it, being the only team to challenge that general rule.

  16. Good article but a tad off the mark. It would be good if he were in Miami more but it is not necessary to live there as long as he hires the right people. Ross absolutely wants to win and he has shown it by opening up that checkbook trying to make the team and facilities better. He tried to get public funding for stadium upgrades and when denied he foot the bill himself rather than hold the community hostage with threats of a move to LA. Ross is a owner but he is more enamored with flash than substance. He is loyal to a fault and his football hires are more about guys he likes than guys who are good at what they do. The front office organization is not typical and that will make it harder to lure top-notch coaches. Miami is a party atmosphere and that is a major distraction for young men who need to direct their full attention to their profession. With the atmosphere, the players need a hard-ass coach with absolute authority and the gravitas to get the most out of the players. The team lacks those lunchpail leadership guys that strap it up and get it done while dragging others with them. Too many players just want to be there while somebody else gets it done. I like Dan Campbell but his ascension was premature. It may be time for a guy like Shanahan to right the ship.

  17. Its the same criticism they are leveling at Haslam here in Cleveland. He does own a home here but spends most of his time in Tennessee overseeing the truckstop business.

  18. When the boss is around, everyone works harder. Everybody knows that. When the boss does not care what happens, then the workers don’t care what happens. This is not something new. How can a person become a billionaire and not seem to understand that?

  19. Apparently Ross is still a huge Jets fan. Why else buy and run the Dolphins into the ground? Makes it easier for the Jets (and the rest) to remain competitive in the division.

  20. bert1913 says:
    Dec 16, 2015 10:07 AM
    as long as they hire the right football people, an owner can live in timbuktu
    ____________________

    ^This. It’s all about finding the right people and putting them in the right structure to succeed. Green Bay doesn’t even have ‘an owner’. Denver’s owner is now out of the picture and they are arguably better for it.

  21. amen..something needs to be done…Im growing tired of being a fins fan…20 year of dismal play is wearing then…we seemingly year after year have talent but just cant put it together..makes it hard to watch…and whats worse…we cant even look forward to 2016. between Tanny and Suh, thats like 60% of the cap. Not going to be good next year either.

    sigh

  22. It isn’t 1934 anymore, grandpa. We have cell phones, and the internet, and the ability to basically know what’s going on anywhere 24/7.

    Residency doesn’t make a team better. Bob McNair lives in Houston, and the Texans are the same mediocre-at-best franchise they’ve been since inception. This is the same guy who won’t put any pressure on the GM despite a 2-14 season and multiple failed drafts, because it’s the godfather to his grandson.

    The same owner that said in the past “We don’t need a superstar QB, we need average, adequate QBs” and this very morning, said “I don’t care what the record is.”

    That’s just one example.

    If you want to blame him for not hiring the right people, then go right ahead. But the owner doesn’t ‘need’ to be there, and most cases, shouldn’t be there. How many times have we seen an owner outright invalidate a coach’s authority? The Washington REDSKINS last few coaches are a great example of this. The Indianapolis Colts with Irsay/Grigson v Pagano right now.

  23. You couldn’t be more wrong, this is 2015 not 1975.

    We have many online meeting tools, numerous ways Ross could impact the team’s day to day operations if he wanted to.

    I work with clients all over the country and never go there and the work is done and done well. Ross could easily take advantage of the technology if he wanted to.

    The fact is the Fins are just a toy to this guy. Its clear he’s not serious about fielding a winner. He just wants to be in the club so he can be the bigwig nfl owner to his billionaire and millionaire buddies.

  24. Is not about the right owner, is about the right people in place (GM and coaching staff). When Tanehill was drafted by the Dolphins, he seemed to have a bright future ahead of him, even people was saying why the Redskins bargained their future trying to get RG3 when they could have gotten Tanehill. Heck, Tanehill even outplayed Luck the first year they met. Unfortunately, he, as the rest of the team, has drastically regressed. Sadly this is a QB driven league, and as long as you have a good QB, your team will always be in contention.

  25. The salary cap was designed for owners like Ross. He knows how much money he can lose (salary cap) and sure as hell knows how much he can make. For him let his paid football people play with the salary cap and personnel juggling. That’s the only down side. The rest is just gravy. Let the football people screw up the salary and players and he will take the TV money, ticket money, concessions, parking, gear and etc., etc., etc. He can live in Moscow and do that. He lives by the Godell rule. Make as much money for the owners and the hell with the fans.

  26. The management manages, the owner owns. How does Ross have responsibility over performance, beyond hiring the people to run the team? And what difference does it make where he lives? He needs to get competent people to manage his football business.

    I don’t know when it happened, but suddenly it is okay for some people to think they can tell other people what to do and expect them to do it. Apparently, having made a lot of money makes the rich person evil and scum.

  27. jvonblohnjvb0013 says:
    Dec 16, 2015 10:14 AM

    ___________________________

    Did you think there was some kind of requirement to be a fan of the team before you could own it? Just look around the league, KAAAAAAHN is from Pakistan and originally tried to buy a majority stake in the Rams, do you think he was actually a Jaguars fan before ownership? Wilf (Vikings) was born in Germany and lived most of his life in New Jersey, do you think he was ever a Vikings fan? Glazer (Buccaneers) was from New York and was well known for being far more interested in success of Manchester United than the Buccaneers. This is the way things go in professional sports; there is very limited supply and demand as teams don’t come up for sale very often and the number of people on the planet who want to own a team and have the money to do so is quite small.

  28. All I know is that Dan Snyder coming to the office every day for the past 15 years has not helped the Redskins one bit. They would actually be better if he’d move. Far, far away.

  29. I understand the sentiment, but I am not sure I buy into this.

    What exactly is an owner supposed to do every day at a team facility if he’s not involved in the day to day running of the team? Supervise the janitors? As other posters point out, the days of needing to be physically present to be in charge are long gone. I run a business from an office in my home in New Jersey where 95% of the employees and the plant are in the Midwest.

    The problem isn’t the lack of a physical presence in the facility by Ross- it’s the mental detachment he has from the team. And that can be fixed without him moving to Florida.

    BTW- I do business with Ross’s real estate company in NYC. He ain’t there much, either.

  30. who cares, just a dumb topic. find someone who can fix the offensive line, ross has been here for 6 years and for six years he’s had people in the front office ignore the offensive line, fix that and everything else will fall into place

  31. Malcom Glazer lived in Palm Beach, about a 3 hour drive/1 hour flight from Tampa Bay. They seemed to win a Super Bowl just fine. (Glazer’s Manchester United team seems to be just fine even though he never stepped in the stadium. Or maybe owning a soccer team is different.)

    AG Spanos still lived in Stockton (6 hr drive/90 min flight) when the Chargers were in the Super Bowl, but when the sons, who live in San Diego, took over so did mediocrity.

    Here’s a thought: 1) Hire a better GM; 2) Hire a better coach; 3) Draft a better QB. Do that and Ross can live on the moon and watch his team win.

  32. Wait. What’s that now? Why does he need to move to Miami?

    I mean, I’d take Miami over NYC all day but this is a pretty loose correlation. Miami is garbage because they have hired the worst GM’s known to man. I don’t think Ross living in Miami would have any impact on that.

    It’s not easy to dig out of the hole that the personnel department continues to dig. Has nothing to do with Ross.

  33. Working remotely through technology is ok for some jobs at some seniority levels but can’t be used when your job is executive leadership over a large entity. Good owners have a visible presence that is “felt” by the organization. He can do that or he can’t. If he can’t he should sell.

  34. If Ross was in Miami everyone would want him to go back to New York. Just get the right GM, head coach, and some kind of offensive line.

  35. Meh, he’s gotta make his money somehow, the billions aren’t coming from the team and I doubt he uproots his HQ just to keep an eye on a not as lucrative business investment.

  36. Stephen Ross does not care about Dolphins’ win-loss record. He brought the team for $1.1B in 2008 knowing NFL team value can only go up. Sure enough, Dolphins team is worth $1.7B today, without a bidding war from potential buyers.

    With revenues sharing, pretty much every NFL team enjoy minimum “break-even” financial record.

    The bottom line is, with zero additional operational expensive, the value of the Dolphins goes up 50-60% in 7 years. That’s a better return than most of the Ross’ real estate deals.

  37. He should sell. He’s a good owner from the standpoint that he’s put plenty of money into the team. So he wants to win at all costs. But you can’t buy a winning football team. He doesn’t understand that. Every year he goes out in the offseason and says we are going to win the free agency sweepstakes. Seen it with Wallace/Ellerbe. Seen it with Branden Albert. Seen it with Suh. This is a team game. Chemistry matters. When you bring in these high profile free agents it sends the wrong message to the young guys on the team who are trying to win. These guys are still learning. They are still building chemistry. And that gets shot to hell when a big $ guy comes in.

    Now the last couple of years, the team has drafted well. Need to continue doing that. Stop with the mass spending in FA. Spend on your own guys that you are developing (Vernon and Miller). But until you get an owner that understands what it takes to BUILD a winning team, it will be the same result every year.

  38. Sell.

    When you’d actually take Jerrah over Ross, you know you have problems that just can’t be solved.

  39. I’ll bet there are 10 owners that don’t live in the cities where their team plays, many of which are successful. I think its the commitment and ability of the owner, not the location — i.e., Daniel Snyder lives close to his team and they’re a dumpster fire.

  40. Why? Lurie relocated from Boston, Eagles still haven’t won anything.

    Tannenbaum proved without Parcells he’s useless his Jet work spoke for itself.
    Marino was never on John Elway’s level cerebral wise. Looking at their postseason records shows the difference between both guys when making decisions under pressure. Marino besides throwing a football in the regular season hasn’t done anything notable since retiring. Wasn’t a good on pregame spots or calling a game, wasn’t good in business…not sure what made the Dolphins they had another Elway in their mitts.

    Either way, this team needs a real football man that can see the nice base of players the ‘fins have & can fill in around that strong base & add to it. Maybe an asst GM doing nice somewhere, being held back & offer him a VP of FB ops & GM role. A strong player & evaluator of talent & COACHING.

  41. It’s not just Ross’ fault. The last time the Phins made a Superbowl appearance was 32 years ago. Their last Championship was 43 years ago. The franchise is, and has been a dumpster fire for a long, long time.

  42. Unrealistic to expect billionaires to live where they own a team. One of the most recent long time owners was Ralph Wilson, who wanted to stay local and buy the Lions, and took the AFL franchise in Buffalo instead.

    Most, like Ross, tried to get a local team and failed.

  43. I never understood this false correlation between owners who are around the team all the time and those that are not. I don’t think the owner plays that huge of an effect on a teams success if they have the right people in the right positions. I certainly don’t think a team benefits from a Jerry Jones approach. To me this is just trying to tie one reason onto a teams failures

  44. Writters complain about owners who are “meddling”, or worse, acting as the GM themselves, and now, an owner who doesn’t and that’s also bad. Ross has done as much or more to build up this franchise the best way an owner can, which is financially. He’s like any other owner, basically you need to have the right “football” people to run the team. Where he resides is completely irrelevant.

  45. Better yet, insist Ross move into a house down the street from Dolphin/Sun Life/Landshark/Pro Player/ Joe Robbie Stadium so he can be super Mark Duper close to the team. Ross won’t mind the window bars and drive-bys. It’ll help him be a better owner.

  46. This is great advice, he needs to become more like Daniel Snyder and/or Jerry Jones with constant meddling in every aspect of the team, because with his football knowledge things would obviously work out great.

    Actually, he should sell all his other interests so he can devote full time to the Phins and hire himself as GM, Coach, and director of football operations.

  47. If the guy was there everyday it would not make a difference. The crew is making poor football decisions. He hired them to make those decisions. Plenty of bad teams with present owners. If He was not spending $ I could understand it.

  48. We haven’t had a good coach in over a decade. Our coordinators are usually piss poor and we let Todd Bowles walk right out the door. The culture of winning Miami football has dwindled.

  49. As a Chiefs fan I agree for the most part.

    Clark Hunt lives in Dallas, but is really involved in the KC community and is there often. It would still be nice though if, at least during the season, he was there 100% of the time.

  50. While some of this article may be true the real blame is his decision not to have a traditional front office. For example, his decision to keep Philbin while firing Ireland and then hiring Hickey but the coach reports to him. Not good. He spends the money for sure. His decisions on front office personal is the real problem.

  51. Since then, coincidentally or not, the Dolphins haven’t made it to the playoffs. Heck, the Dolphins haven’t even had a winning season since Ross became the owner.
    …………………..
    The only time they have made the playoffs since 1999 was when they took the league by storm with the wildcat and quickly fizzled out after. The problems run a lot deeper than Ross.

  52. The Fins under Ross is not an owner not living there problem. It’s never, under Ross, firing everyone and having a complete chain of hiring under the GM’s direction. We NEED to start with Tbaum and fire everyone below him. HC, coordinators, assts., scouts, everyone. Clean house and bleach it all.
    Hire an NFL experienced HC. No more asst. coaches, coordinators, college coaches. Just stop it.

  53. I’ve always said Ross only bought the Dolphins because they were for sale. He’s a Jets fan and wanted them but lost out. He makes money regardless of the teams wins and loses, too many people are willing to shell out thousands for season tickets, but that’s coming to an end. I know several season ticket holders this year that have had it with the team especially after having their seats moved so they can put in an empty 72 Club section.

  54. Ross needs to hire a competent General Manager. If he does that, he’ll be fine living anywhere he wants.

    Most owners, at least most good owners, don’t try to lord over their football teams. They find a solid GM and let him manage the team.

  55. I work in IT for a company where the IT department is split between 2 cities. Believe me, a lot more work gets done when top management is in town. Having said that, Ross is lousy top management.

  56. He looks like a cross between Droopy Dog and Woody Allen.
    ——————————————————
    ……and Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies.

  57. Paul Allen is the opposite…lives in seattle, has a strong presence here…but remains quiet most of the time trusting Pete and john completely.

    He is the model of the perfect owner. Extremely smart, very involved behind the scenes but ZERO football ego.

    Paul Allen knows what he doesn’t know so he doesn’t meddle like Snyder or actually thinks he can do it himself like Jerry.

    Boom back to back superbowls.

    Good luck Miami. You deserve better.

  58. The coaching staff was and still is a joke! ie: Zac Taylor the OC! Come on, that KID has no business even being a Junior College coach! Look at his resume! There’s high school coaches in Florida that have way more experience than this kid! He needs to be teaching PE n working as assistant in middle school! Who hired this kid?

  59. it’s a simple fact that he’s not hired the right people to run this team. Being a billionaire does not mean you know squat about football. Put the right guy in charge and get out of the way. He’s hired nothing but other teams cast offs and re-treads.

  60. I’d like to see David Beckham’s group buy the team. That solves his stadium issue and would bring some glamor to the Dolphins. The guy is a winner, you can’t take it away from him.

  61. The obvious counter argument to this article would be Warren Buffett. He owns many companies and ensures excellent management is in place, and very few of those businesses are located in Omaha. Ross may just not be a good talent evaluator when it comes to his lieutenants.

  62. Mr. Ross there is an exception to this article. There is a solution to make the Fins a winning organization.

    Step 1: Hire Alonso Highsmith
    Step 2: Hand him 100% control
    Step 3: Sit back, enjoy New York, and enjoy the Fins path to glory again.

    or you can continue this path of losing. Thanks!

    Sincerely,
    A Phins Fan since 1983.

  63. Absolutely correct sir!<<< made me Lol (inside to area) I have 8 bosses.

    Rapper rick Ross wants to buy the team. This Ross does have deep pockets and does spend it. That is about the only good.

    The last HC Fins had with past NFL experience?
    Dave Wannstedt (2000–2004) and the last winning the team did consistently. He was complained about much like T-hill today. Who you gonna get better?

  64. The only thing Ross knows how to do for his team is throw money at things.
    He has basically no idea what kind of brains and heart you need in the building to build a winning football team, how wisely you need to spend your money, and who to show loyalty to / learn to let go.
    It seems every year Miami is left with terribly overpaid contracts, and players/coaches who don’t belong in the building yet still have big roles and unwarranted job security because they’re on the good-side of a low-football-IQ owner.
    Unless Tannenbaum can knock things out of the park as V.P., Ross and the Fins will likely never see success.

  65. iamkillerfin says:
    Dec 16, 2015 12:29 PM

    Ross just sell this team PLEASE!!! The new owner can please change back the femme logo to the aggressive logo & maybe we’ll get back to winning!!!
    —-
    Right, the logo change helped a lot on Monday night. Ross has done more than most owners in this league for his team, like investing hundreds of millions into it. He’s not a coach, GM, capologist, or even pretends to be. He was sold the team with Parcells in charge, and has been trying to get the right football people in place ever since. If it were easy all 32 teams would be contenders. DS people.

  66. Ross needs to sell the Dolphins. It’s a long history of horrible personnel moves, and misses, at all levels, from players to every coach and front office position. He has no idea what he is doing. Why would you hire Mike Tannenbaum, who was a failure with the Jets, yet the Jets still beat you more often than not.

  67. Selling the team might not be the answer that Dolphin fans are looking for. It depends who Ross would sell the team to. Hard as it may be to believe, fans could get someone even worse.

    Personally, I don’t think Ross not being there is an issue. If he’d hire the right people, and let them do their job, things could work out just fine. The trouble is, he hasn’t hired, or drafted, the right people.

  68. Ross should sell the team to Donald Trump,this guy would put all his fire into winning in the nfl like he does winning the Repubs.nomination for Prez. he likes sports a hellava lot more than Ross does and would become super involved with his team,hell he may even move his headquarters to Miami.

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