Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Marino ditches his Dolphins VP job

Former star QB accepted position only 3 weeks ago

The Associated Press

MIAMI - Dan Marino resigned as senior vice president of the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday, only three weeks after accepting a job that brought him back to the team he quarterbacked for 17 seasons.

"I have decided that it would not be in the best interests of either my family or the Dolphins to assume the role as the team's senior vice president of football operations," Marino said in a statement released by the team.

Marino played for the Dolphins from 1983-99 and took them to the 1985 Super Bowl, which they lost to San Francisco. He holds NFL records with 61,361 yards passing and 420 touchdown passes.

Marino and team owner Wayne Huizenga often had discussed the notion of the franchise favorite's return to the Dolphins, and the marquee move of an offseason front-office shake-up seemed to be Marino's hiring.

"I am disappointed in Dan's decision, especially since I think he would have made an outstanding football executive," Huizenga said. "But I understand his reasons, and I support his decision to reorder the priorities in his life."

A telephone message left at Marino's home was not immediately returned. A woman who answered the phone and refused to give her name said Marino was out of town and could not be reached, although Huizenga said he and Marino met Tuesday afternoon in his South Florida office.

The Dolphins created a new position for Marino, who had planned to leave his analyst jobs at CBS Sports and HBO. Marino is scheduled to tape a Super Bowl wrapup show for HBO's Inside the NFL in New York today. The show was to be his last as a network commentator before joining the Dolphins.

Huizenga said the Dolphins will begin searching for "a senior executive who has an extensive football background" to join Miami's management team and oversee football operations. It has not been determined if that person would have the same title Marino was given in his short stint as an executive.

The organizational reshuffling came after Huizenga stripped head coach Dave Wannstedt of final say in personnel matters, a move prompted by two straight seasons without a playoff appearance.

After a lengthy search for a general manager, during which at least seven candidates were interviewed, the team chose to promote Rick Spielman from senior vice president to GM. Spielman, though, would report to Marino, who was placed behind only Huizenga and team president Eddie Jones in the Dolphins' executive hierarchy.

Through the team's media relations office, Spielman and Wannstedt both declined requests for comment.

None of the spurned GM candidates will be interviewed to replace Marino in the front office, Huizenga said. Neither will Ron Wolf, the former Green Bay GM who was unsuccessfully wooed by the Dolphins and eventually hired last month as a personnel specialist by the Cleveland Browns.

"We need a football person here," Huizenga said.

REDSKINS: Coach Joe Gibbs will have two assistant head coaches, plus separate offensive and defensive coordinators, when he returns to the sidelines after an 11-year retirement.

Nearly all of the names have been public knowledge for weeks, but some of the titles were surprises when the Redskins announced Gibbs' veteran-laden staff.

Former Buffalo coach Gregg Williams was listed as "assistant head coach - defense," while Greg Blache is defensive coordinator and defensive line coach. Blache spent the last five seasons as Chicago's defensive coordinator.

Joe Bugel, who built the "Hogs" offensive line under Gibbs in the 1980s, returns as "assistant head coach - offense." Don Breaux, running backs coach during Gibbs' first stint, is offensive coordinator.

Longtime NFL offensive guru Ernie Zampese will be a consultant for the offense.

Gibbs' son, Coy Gibbs, was given an entry-level position, making Joe Gibbs the third consecutive Redskins head coach to have a relative on his staff.

Stan Hixon, receivers coach at LSU, will hold the same job with the Redskins. The only holdover from Steve Spurrier's staff is defensive and special teams assistant Kirk Olivadotti.

BILLS: Steve Szabo was hired as the Buffalo Bills' defensive backs coach after a season as a volunteer assistant with Super Bowl champion New England.

Szabo has 34 years of coaching experience, including nine, 1994-2002, as Jacksonville's linebackers coach. He spent the previous 25 years with college teams, including stints as an assistant at Syracuse, Ohio State and Boston College.

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