Stephen Ross questioned Thursday whether the Pro Bowl has outlived its usefulness.
He insisted that if he had a son, that son would play football — despite the health risks.
Ross hinted that there might not be enough sports fans in South Florida to support a Major League Soccer team.
And he suggested that the Key Biscayne tennis tournament could still be moved to Hard Rock Stadium.
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Ross had a good many things to say about a good many things.
But the one topic where he showed restraint? When asked about his football club.
So, while fans might be dreaming Super Bowl after the Dolphins’ first playoff appearance since 2008, Ross wouldn’t go there Thursday during a meeting with reporters on the first day of training camp.
“You have to take one step at a time and one day at a time in growing it,” Ross said. “I also don't want to put anyone in a situation where expectations. ... We all have great expectations, but they have to be realistic, but we’re a long, growing team.”
Ross has learned much in his time as Dolphins owner. In years past, he wasn’t nearly so restrained — whether it was comparing Chad Henne to Dan Marino or Joe Philbin to Don Shula — and those remarks came back to haunt him.
So Ross traded bold for bland Thursday, saying only that he believes he finally has the right people running his organization.
“I think we have a team that really is working well together,” Ross said. “The front office, both on the business side and the football side. I'm kind of thrilled the way things are — I think we have the right people, and that’s key. I believe in them, and they work together well. That’s as important.”
Other topics discussed during an otherwise forthcoming roundtable chat with reporters:
▪ Ross was “very saddened” to hear that at least eight members of the famed 1972 Dolphins team have developed cognitive impairment — with football as a potential cause.
“I think we do everything as a team and as a league to really make sure that we’re looking at all the different issues,” Ross said. “We're all concerned about it. There’s a tremendous amount of research that’s going into it and things to make it better.”
Ross added: “As close as I am, I know that if I had a son, I’d have him playing football today. These are things that concern, but I know so much time, attention and money is going to look at to make sure the sport is safer.”
The Dolphins recently announced that they’re paying for concussion testing for some 15,000 high school students, which will establish baseline brain parameters for the athletes.
▪ David Beckham’s group did approach Ross about partnering in his bid to bring an MLS franchise to Miami, but “nothing really serious” came from those talks.
The Dolphins owner, who has brought world-class soccer matches to Hard Rock Stadium, including El Clasico on Saturday, also wondered aloud if this city is a good fit for an MLS team.
“I think it would be an awful lot of competition to bring a team here, knowing that we’re bringing all these great teams to Miami,” Ross said. “I think Miami is a great event city, and that’s really what it’s known as. It’s not the great sports city we’d like it to [be.] Coming in to compete with us, I wouldn’t want to be doing that.”
▪ Ross didn’t dismiss the idea of someday luring the NFL Draft to South Florida, but acknowledged that both weather and where to hold it are concerns. When asked about bringing the Pro Bowl back to Miami, he responded:
“The real question is, ‘Should we continue with the Pro Bowl?’ I think that’s really the bigger question.”
▪ Could the Miami Open end up at Hard Rock Stadium if the necessary improvements aren’t made to the Key Biscayne facility?
“Stay tuned. ... It's a thought.”