Posted: 8:47 am Friday, March 16th, 2012
By Post Staff
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wanted Peyton Manning in the worst way, and it’s hard to blame him. Manning is possibly the best and most intriguing free agent in NFL history, and would have solved multiple problems for the Dolphins – filling the 13-year hole at franchise quarterback, and bringing fans back to Sun Life Stadium.
And as long as the Dolphins get Matt Flynn, then no harm, no foul in their pursuit of Manning. It was definitely worth the shot. But Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland should’ve realized by last weekend that they wouldn’t be a finalist for Manning, who according to ESPN will choose between Denver and Tennessee. NFL Network reported Friday morning that Manning personally contacted the Dolphins on Thursday to inform them he won’t be playing in Miami next year.
Dolphins management, it turns out, had to enlist the help of Dan Marino just to secure a meeting with Manning, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told the Post.
The Dolphins’ brass did not deal with Manning directly and was frustrated last week when it could not pin down a meeting with him through his agents at Creative Artists Agency (CAA).
With the clock ticking, the Dolphins asked Marino – their legendary former quarterback and a golfing partner of Manning’s – to call him personally over the weekend to persuade him to meet with the team. Marino did, and was able to secure a five-hour meeting between Manning and the Dolphins on Monday.
But the location of the meeting – and the parties involved – should have been the second indication for Dolphins management that Manning wasn’t seriously considering them.
The Dolphins’ meeting was the only one of the four done by Manning not to take place in the team’s city. Manning flew to Tennessee, Denver and Arizona to tour their facilities and meet with players, coaches and executives. His meeting with the Dolphins on Monday was conducted in his hometown of Indianapolis, and with only coach Joe Philbin and other members of the coaching staff present – not Ireland or Ross.
The Dolphins have not returned a call seeking comment. According to CNBC’s Darren Rovell, Ross said in a taped interview Thursday that he was “very involved” in the pursuit of Manning.
It is unclear why Manning was so uninterested in the Dolphins, who were believed by many (including us) to be a good fit for him. They have a solid defense, an elite left tackle, some playmakers on offense, tropical weather and an owner who was willing to open his checkbook.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle was familiarity. Manning apparently has a good relationship with Broncos president John Elway and Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, and the Titans organization has always had a profound respect for Manning — Jeff Fisher even wore a Manning jersey to a Nashville fundraiser one time. But Manning entered the process knowing very little, if anything, about Philbin, Ireland or Ross.
Again, as long as the Dolphins get Flynn – who they view as their contingency plan to Manning – then no harm was done by pursuing Manning. But if Flynn signs with Seattle today – he’s supposed to visit the Dolphins this weekend, but not before visiting with the Seahawks today – then Dolphins fans will be left to wonder why the team spent so much effort on a fruitless pursuit of Manning.