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Marino, Dolphins unable to figure out his role


Now that the whole lawsuit-against-his-prospective-employer thing has been rectified, Dan Marino can focus on returning to the Dolphins for the third time as an employee and the second as something other than a player.

The first time Marino went to work for the team as a front-office executive, it didn’t turn out so well. Marino, apparently not realizing the demands of the job and unwilling or unable to roll up his sleeves and grind it out as an evaluator of talent, quit the job roughly three weeks after taking it.

Now, with Marino expected to return to the team, there’s a fairly minor problem. As explained by Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the two sides have been unable to figure out what Marino’s role will be.

At a time when the team has a less-than-ideal image in South Florida and beyond, Marino would be great as a hand-shaking, baby-kissing ambassador of the brand, attending civic events and entertaining sponsors and big-ticket season-ticket holders with tales from days gone by. Back when the Dolphins were, you know, good.

But the Dolphins also desperately need an in-house Moe Howard, who has the ability and the willingness to clunk heads when folks motivated by keeping and/or advancing their power begin to square off. Unless and until owner Stephen Ross decides to clean house and hire a strong G.M. or a strong head coach who will hire his own people to run the show, a babysitter for the current power structure is needed -- especially since Ross doesn’t spend much time in Miami.

Of course, Marino may not be suited or inclined to serve as mediator and/or referee for every little who-ate-my-damn-chicken-salad? dispute that comes up in the course of running a business.

Ultimately, Ross and Marino need to figure out what Dan can do and what he wants to do, and then they need to design a job that lets him do that. At some point, however, Ross needs to ask what he’s paying for. Does he want to hire Marino simply so that he can say Marino is back in the fold? Or does Ross envision Marino actually making a substantive contribution?

If it’s the former, maybe Ross should just pay him to show up and work on the Penske file.