Former Dolphins boss Bill Parcells hints at rift with GM Jeff Ireland


Bill Parcells, set to join the Pro Football Hall of Fame, says the only person with the Dolphins he speaks to these days is contract negotiator Dawn Aponte.

Jeff Ireland is the Miami Dolphins’ general manager because Bill Parcells hand-picked him for the job.

But Parcells hinted Friday that the two men no longer speak.

“I only know [contract negotiator] Dawn Aponte down there well,” Parcells said at a news conference ahead of his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “She’s the only one that I speak to from time to time, and not very often.”

Parcells, the Dolphins’ former vice president of football operations, did not give a reason for the apparent rift. But during a conference call with national reporters last month, he said he handed over control of the organization to Ireland too soon.

“Retrospectively, I don’t think it was the right thing because I saw things happen that I would have made every effort to try to avoid,” Parcells said then.

It is believed that Parcells was referring to owner Steve Ross’ failed pursuit of coach Jim Harbaugh while Tony Sparano – also hired by Parcells – was still under contract. Ireland joined Ross on the recruiting trip (Harbaugh eventually chose the San Francisco 49ers).

As for Aponte, Parcells was very complimentary.

“I’m proud of what she’s accomplished,” Parcells said of Aponte, a special guest of Parcells this week during Hall of Fame ceremonies. “She’s pretty high up for a woman in this league.”

The Dolphins are currently searching for a CEO to replace Mike Dee, who will soon leave to take a similar job with the San Diego Padres. Parcells essentially endorsed Aponte for the job.

Asked if Aponte might be a future team president, Parcells said: “She’s certainly got a shot. She’s got the capabilities. She’s smart, she knows the league, she’s worked in the league office. She knows the rules. She’s a good salary cap evaluator. I hope [it happens]. That’ll be something.”

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