Stephen Ross says Tony Sparano damaged the Dolphins

04/27/2013 1:30 AM

09/08/2014 6:36 PM

The grudge Tony Sparano held after the Dolphins’ surreptitious courting of Jim Harbaugh in early 2011 “damaged the whole organization,” owner Stephen Ross said on Dan Le Batard’s show on 790 The Ticket on Friday afternoon.

Appearing as a guest to talk about the future of Sun Life Stadium, Ross instead revisited the Dolphins’ recent past.

He spoke in detail about the fractious relationship between Sparano and Ross and Jeff Ireland . Things, not surprisingly, went south once word leaked that the Dolphins owner flew to California’s Bay Area to interview Harbaugh, even with Sparano still under contract.

Harbaugh ultimately took San Francisco’s top job; Ross believes he was used by Harbaugh’s camp for leverage purposes.

Even still, the damage with Sparano was irreparable. He was fired late the following season.

“He could never put it behind him,” Ross said. “I don’t think he was the right head coach for the Miami Dolphins. I didn’t hire him. We’re a much better organization today than then.”

Among the other takeaways from Ross’ revealing radio appearance:

• “This organization is functioning the best since the [ Don ] Shula days, [because] I picked the head coach with Jeff Ireland. People see this organization is really on the uptick.”
• On Ireland: “People wanted to blame our losing on somebody, and he was the easy person to blame it on. I believe in Jeff, and you’re seeing today what Jeff Ireland can really do.”
• Ross said Dion Jordan reminded the front office of Jason Taylor and DeMarcus Ware .
• He said during his first year as owner, “Everybody had me walking on eggshells or we were going to lose Bill Parcells .” He disagreed with Le Batard’s assertion that Parcells is a fraud: “I have a lot of respect for the guy. I like the guy. He didn’t stay with it for personal reasons.”

Ross also said his sales pitch to Peyton Manning during free agency in early 2012 included a role with the Dolphins after he retired.

“I got to know Archie Manning ,” Ross said. “I tried every angle. You have to be tenacious. I thought we had a shot at him. We went up to Indianapolis. I then flew him from Indianapolis to North Carolina, to Duke, and he and I spent some time together.

“I know the reason why he made the decision. I made an offer I thought would get him there [with a post-playing career role that Ross did not specify on the radio]. He wrote me a letter: ‘I would love to come with you, but I guess that would mean I have to play for you.’ ”

Ross said one of the main reasons Manning chose Denver was “his familiarity with the coaches and their [offensive] systems.”

This And That

• When the Dolphins traded up for Jordan, who is a projected defensive end in a 4-3 defense, it raised some doubts about Jared Odrick’s future with the team. However, the front office has told Odrick that his role will not change in 2013.
• The Raiders used the pick they got in the Jordan deal (42nd overall) on Florida State tackle Menelik Watson, who had worked out with the Dolphins.
• Miami Hall of Famer Larry Little announced the Dolphins’ picks at Radio City Music Hall on Friday night.

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