Dolphins Dub 49ers McDaniel as Next Head Coach
The 49ers offensive whiz has certainly earned the right to be considered for NFL head coaching jobs, but the selection comes amid intense controversy surrounding Miami’s owner Stephen Ross – and frankly isn’t surprising.
ChiefsFocus @CgiefsFocus Charles Robinson @CRob5769
Sunday, the Miami Dolphins announced that San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel had been selected as the next head coach in South Beach. McDaniel has done an outstanding job cultivating the 49ers offense that has undoubtedly been one of the league’s most creative and innovative in running the football, creating route combinations to mask weaknesses on the roster, and creating dynamic, explosive plays even when the team is dealing with injury and personnel issues. His mind is incredible, and he will undoubtedly be able to do a lot with Tua and the young Miami offense that started to find its groove late in the season under former head coach Brian Flores. McDaniel is one of the first (Jets coach Robert Saleh left the staff last year) coaches to move on to a head coaching job from the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree, and he will without question not be the last. I personally think he will have success in Miami and am a big fan of his personality. If you haven’t seen any of his press conferences, I’d highly encourage you to check them out – I’ll even drop you a link. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
The purpose of this is not to discount the biggest achievement of McDaniel’s career thus far. Like I said up top, he’s undoubtedly earned this opportunity, and I hope and believe he will have success. But the timing of this all is dubious at best, and the hire is shrouded in controversy amid the lawsuit that Brian Flores has levied against the NFL, specifically citing Dolphins owner Stephen Ross for incentivizing losses (Flores alleges that Ross offered him $100K per loss to enhance the Dolphins draft status), breaking the NFL’s tampering rules by setting up a meeting with an unnamed quarterback on his yacht without telling Flores that said QB would be there, and ultimately pointing allegations of racism in hiring, firing, and employment practices at Ross specifically and at the league as a whole.
This is an issue that is much, much larger than anything that I could personally begin to solve or even recommend solutions for. The league as a whole has an incredibly large systematic problem on its hands, and the Flores suit is the most recent in a long line of legal and public outcries to alter the course of candidate screening, hiring, and staffing practices across the league. Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL owners have a problem that a couple of news cycles won’t make go away, and Stephen Ross is at the epicenter of this issue.
When I wrote about the Eric Bienemy rumor mill the week following the end of the regular season, the Miami Dolphins were one of the teams mentioned in the list of potential landing spots for the Chiefs current OC. In the article (linked here), I eluded to something that our insider had told me about Ross’ hiring practices in the past :
…given Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ track record, this might be a long shot. Ross is notorious for setting up interviews simply to meet all requirements under the league’s “Rooney Rule” for minority coaching candidates. Our sources have gone as far as to say that Ross hired Brian Flores initially because he knew there would be draft compensation coming his way eventually.
Given the news that has surfaced as of late from the Flores suit, and uncovering some past complaints and grievances filed in Ross’ direction, it appears that some of these deplorable skeletons from the Dolphins owner’s closet are about the be exposed to the nation. This is not something that should come as a surprise for those who are familiar with his past.
Stephen Ross is a self-made billionaire. He grew up in Detroit, and moved to South Florida when he was young after his family fell on hard times and his father moved the family to help run a family owned hotel in Florida. He attended the University of Michigan (where the business school currently bears his name) and began a career in real estate that would skyrocket. He’s one of the richest men in America, with a net worth somewhere north of $8 Billion. He’s done business with nearly everyone in real estate, including former President Donald Trump. This relationship is one that, due to the former commander in chief’s reputation and platform, drew some very dark and despicable stories about the work environments and behaviors that Ross condoned in his own company – Related Companies.
In 2019, many Equinox and Soul Cycle members canceled their memberships when they learned that Ross was throwing a no-expenses-spared fundraiser in the Hamptons for Trump. Ross is a large corporate investor in both fitness chains. He has been classified in his time in real estate as a Union Buster, on numerous occasions having union protestors arrested at his job sites for doing what is in their inherent right – the freedom to protest. They’re not protesting wage increases. In these cases, specifically at the NYC development Hudson Yards, they were protesting racist and misogynistic workplace practices. One worker said he was fired for requesting more information about the company’s 401(k) benefits. He was a black man. One woman claimed that she was so uncomfortable in the workplace that she didn’t even feel comfortable going to the bathroom by herself. She was a black woman. The quote associated with this claim – “Not only was I exploited as a worker, but as a woman. I experienced a lot of sexism as far as my voice not being heard and my opinions falling on deaf ears.”
In January of 2019 resident of one of Ross’ properties enlisted in the #CountMeIn campaign on social media, fighting against rampant racially fueled tenant harassment. All of these factors created a cry for Ross to step down from the NFL’s Social and Racial Justice Committee. It had become very clear that, through a history of condoning and harboring abusive and demeaning workplace practices that Stephen Ross was further from practice of what he was preaching than ever imaginable.
For football fans, think back to 2016. The Dolphins were ensnarled in a locker room controversy surrounding guard Richie Incognito and tackle Jonathan Martin. Allegations of bullying, including both public comments about Martin’s sexuality, race, and family, were levied against Incognito. He was blackballed from the league for a time (not as along as Colin Kaepernick, but I digress), and the issue was “addressed and taken care of”. But how do you get to that point as an organization? A culture is created from the top down. As Richie Incognito in the wrong? Hell yes he was. He has sought help since then, educated himself, and appears (by all accounts) to have learned a lot from the devastating behavior he exhibited. But that could have been stopped sooner. The culture that Ross allows to go on inside of the Dolphins facilities, the locker room included, cannot be overlooked in all of this.
Mike McDaniel is going to find success as a head coach in the NFL. Without question. He earned this opportunity and I sincerely hope he turns Miami into a contender. But we should all hope that the league steps up and does something about the track record and actions of Stephen Ross. The Dolphins had Eric Bienemy and Byron Leftwich “on their radar” for the head coach opening. They interviewed Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, Cardinals DC Vance Joseph, and Rams running backs coach Thomas Brown.
Did they interview as well as McDaniel? I don’t know, I was not in the room. But if something looks like crap and smells like crap, you can pretty quickly figure out what it is. This looks and smells like the same old behavior from the Dolphins and Stephen Ross, and it’s time for Roger Goodell and the rest of the owners to step up and do something about it.