Ireland controversy heating up for Dolphins

April, 28, 2010
4/28/10
7:31
PM ET
Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland's private conversation with Dez Bryant is turning into a public-relations nightmare.

For the second straight day, the Dolphins issued a statement regarding a controversial question Ireland asked the Oklahoma State receiver in a pre-draft interview. Ireland asked Bryant if his mother was a prostitute.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross issued a statement Wednesday afternoon:
"As an owner of many companies and organizations, including the Miami Dolphins, I have always strived to comply with the highest standards in all aspects of my businesses including recruiting.
"In interviewing employees we always look to obtain relevant and appropriate information in adherence with the best industry practices.
"Jeff Ireland has already apologized for questions asked of former Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant.

"I will be looking into this matter personally and will take appropriate actions if necessary."

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith issued a statement critical of Ireland on behalf of the union Wednesday.

Mike Ditka was a guest on Miami sports-radio station 790 The Ticket and blasted Ireland. When Ditka was coach of the Chicago Bears in the 1980s, Ireland was a ball boy. Ireland's grandfather, Jim Parmer, was the Bears' college scouting director at the time.

"Somebody ought to whack him in the head," Ditka said of Ireland, according to a blog by Palm Beach Post reporter Edgar Thompson. "You don't ask that question. If you think you know it, you know.

"What are you going to confront a young man with that situation for? He probably loves his mother no matter what she is or who she is. Why would somebody do that? I don't understand things like that. Maybe I'm naive or I'm old. I don't understand that.

"What do you get from asking that question? What's it all about? Every bit of information has to be spread out on the table now? Is that it? Everybody's dirty linen has to be out? I disagree with that. I'm sorry."

Former Dolphins fullback Rob Konrad defended Ireland with an e-mail distributed to South Florida reporters.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist Ethan J. Skolnick posted Konrad's e-mail in full. Here are some highlights:
"Jeff is one of the true good guys in the industry, to see his name being tarnished in the media as the result of single question during a team interview seems to me entirely unjust. ...

"It's important to keep in mind the context of these interviews, the prospect of guaranteeing a 22-year-old stranger millions of dollars to enter one of the most competitive, intolerant and insensitive professional work environments around. I'm not attempting to defend the question asked, but rather the person and the process. Having been through those interviews, in the locker room and on the field, I can tell you that he work environment in the NFL is unique, one that would be unacceptable in virtually any other industry. The questions asked by teams in pre-draft interviews usually have the dual purpose of getting to know the player and testing their mind-set. ...

"When I was coming out of Syracuse University, I remember being asked if I thought I could succeed as a white running back in the NFL and why I thought a kid who attended a suburban Massachusetts private high school was tough enough to play in the NFL. If one were interviewing a prospective executive for private industry, this line of questioning likely wouldn't be acceptable. ...

"Jeff may be demanding and thorough, and maybe a question was asked in poor judgment, but he's one of the good guys in the NFL. He's been a great asset to the Dolphins and a good friend to South Florida."

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