Marino back with Dolphins as new VP

Boss of football operations aims to win championship he didn't as Miami's QB

January 13, 2004|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Dan Marino couldn't scratch his competitive itch in the TV studio, so the retired quarterback great will rejoin the Miami Dolphins as senior vice president of football operations, the team announced yesterday.

Marino will chase the Super Bowl championship that eluded him as a player in the team's No. 2 management position under owner H. Wayne Huizenga.

"I want to do whatever I can and whatever is necessary to help this team get back to where we need to be, to win a championship that I never won," he said during a news conference.

After an exhaustive search for a general manager, Huizenga hired Marino to oversee football operations and promoted Rick Spielman to general manager.

Marino, 42, will report to Dolphins president Eddie Jones. Both Spielman, who ran the player personnel department, and coach Dave Wannstedt will report to Marino.

Huizenga and Jones interviewed seven candidates for the new position before arriving at the surprise choice of Marino, who has no executive experience. Among those who interviewed were Phil Savage and Tim Ruskell, the player personnel directors for the Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"It's a team game on the field and a team game in the office, as well," Huizenga said. "We need two good teams to win. The name of the game for us is to win. Nothing else really matters."

Marino, who has worked as an NFL analyst for CBS and HBO, will begin the new job after his television duties conclude with the Super Bowl on Feb. 1. He inherits a team that has featured numerous Pro Bowl players but greatly underachieved since his retirement after the 1999 season. The Dolphins have won one playoff game since he left.

They finished 10-6 this season and missed the playoffs for the second straight year.

"I'm happy that Wayne stayed within the Dolphins family in improving the organization," former Dolphins coach Don Shula said in a statement. "I believe that Dan will do a great job as senior vice president of football operations. He has proven that he's a true leader."

Marino's appointment may prove uncomfortable for Wannstedt, who nudged the future Hall of Famer into retirement just two months after succeeding Jimmy Johnson as Dolphins coach in January 2000.

Wannstedt received a two-year extension in December but was stripped of his authority to make personnel decisions. He is 41-23 in the regular season over four years with the Dolphins, but 1-2 in the postseason.

Marino also will have a decision to make at quarterback. Incumbent starter Jay Fiedler is due a $2 million option bonus in April with a projected base salary of $3.7 million in 2004.

Marino played 17 seasons with the Dolphins but reached the Super Bowl only once. That was in the 1984 season, when Miami lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 38-16.

He owns 24 NFL records, including most career passing yards (61,361) and most career touchdowns (420). In 1984, he threw for single-season records of 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns.

Marino said he enjoyed broadcasting, but feels more comfortable in a team environment.

"Television is great, it's fun to do, but at the end of the day, I'm a football guy," he said. "To me, I'm back home again."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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