Miami Dolphins

Plan to purge Dolphins roster was questioned, but this man ultimately gave his blessing

Stephen Ross is entering his 10th season as Dolphins owner.
Stephen Ross is entering his 10th season as Dolphins owner.

Surprised, and a little puzzled, when you first heard the Dolphins’ plan to gut their roster of many their biggest stars?

You have something in common with their boss.

“I question[ed] why,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said at the NFL annual meeting here Tuesday. “You want to know why. There has to be a justification for it and you want to hear what their plan is. We’re constantly reviewing it. You don’t do things and say, ‘Why was that done?’

“I saw the logic, but certainly I had questions,” Ross continued. “Everybody has questions when you lose two players of that quality. You have to have reservations and questions.”

Still, Ross did not try to dissuade Mike Tannenbaum, Adam Gase and Chris Grier from jettisoning Ndamukong Suh, Jarvis Landry, Mike Pouncey and others this offseason.

And he has since embraced the front office’s jarring decision to turn over Miami’s underachieving roster.

“I like where it’s going,” Ross said of the Dolphins’ plan. “Most importantly, the coach and general manager and the whole team believe it’s been a successful offseason so far. Like all of us, I’m a fan. I’m going to have to wait in see like you guys are. But I believe in them and what what they’re doing and the game plan they have.”

Ross is entering Year 10 of his NFL experiment, and remains in search of his first playoff victory. Ross, who turns 78 in May, said the on-field performance of his franchise over the past decade is something he’s “not most proud about.”

“[It’s] a lot harder than I thought it might be,” Ross said. “It’s tougher, as I always said, to win in the National Football League than it is in business.”

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross says he's disappointed with the season after the Fins' loss to the Buffalo Bills. (Video contains graphic language)

Ross said last year’s 6-10 campaign “wasn’t acceptable,” yet elected to bring back the three men most responsible for constructing the team.

Those men convinced Ross that a culture change was necessary, even if that meant parting ways with Suh, who Ross said at these very meetings three years ago that “I’d be very proud with him as my son. He is outstanding.”

Ross on Tuesday said: “You like guys, and certainly they gave an awful lot. You hate to see people go, but that’s true in life. We’re here for win football games. It’s not about making friends.”

▪  While the Dolphins’ 6-10 season inevitably depressed fan enthusiasm for the team, team CEO Tom Garfinkel said that 75 percent of last year’s season-ticket holders have renewed for 2018, and that the Dolphins have sold 4,000 new season tickets.

Meanwhile, construction has begun on the tennis complex adjacent to the stadium that will host the Miami Open beginning in 2019.

The Dolphins also have raised their hands to host future Pro Bowls and NFL drafts, although Garfinkel had no update on those applications. The Super Bowl is coming to Miami Gardens in 2020, and when the bid process for future games begins, the Dolphins will “throw our name in the hat for that, too.”

Furthermore, Hard Rock Stadium is among the facilities that could host the World Cup in 2026 if the joint bid involving the United States, Canada and Mexico beats out Morocco.

“I don’t know if expectations are the right word, but we’ll certainly be aggressive in our pursuit,” Garfinkel said.

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

Related stories from Miami Herald