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Thursday, January 9, 2014
Miami mess has a shade of green

By Rich Cimini

Remember when the New York Jets were known as the most dysfunctional team in the NFL? That unofficial title now belongs to the Miami Dolphins -- the South Beach circus.

Mangini
Mangini
Turns out the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying scandal was only the start of the Dolphins' woes. These days, they're making news with a fractured front office that makes the Christie administration look like the honor society. It might be safer to swim with sharks than to work for the Dolphins. Then again, it's kind of the same thing.

"A lot of politics," a person familiar with the situation told me.

General manager Jeff Ireland, who failed to make the playoffs in any of his six seasons, agreed to part ways with the team this week after losing a power struggle with coach Joe Philbin, according to reports in South Florida and elsewhere. Funny thing is, there's a greenish tint to the entire mess -- meaning links to the Jets.

One of the biggest sharks in the Miami tank apparently is Dawn Aponte, the executive vice president of football administration -- a former underling of ex-Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum. Aponte reportedly stabbed Ireland in the back, formed an alliance with Philbin and worked her way into the inner circle of owner Stephen Ross.

Ross, a super wealthy businessman who lives in New York, has a curious affinity for former Jets. He recently named Jets Hall of Famer Curtis Martin to his "Bully Board" -- an advistory committee that was formed in the aftermath of the Incognito-Martin controversy. In addition, one of Ross' most trusted advisors is Matt Higgins, former team president of the Jets.

You can't make this stuff up.

Dolphins team reporter James Walker does a nice job of outlining the Dolphins-Jets parallels on his blog. It's a must-read.

So now the Dolphins are looking for a new general manager, and the names being reported in the South Florida media include Tannenbaum and former Jets coach Eric Mangini, currently an offensive consultant for the San Francisco 49ers. Once upon a time, Tannenbaum rose to power in the Jets' organization when he convinced owner Woody Johnson to hire Mangini away from Bill Belichick. The Tannenbaum-Mangini alliance ruled the Jets for three years. When Mangini was fired, and hired by the Cleveland Browns, he brought along an up-and-coming star in the front office.

Aponte.

This would be a great reality show, wouldn't it?