Senior Vice President of Media Relations, Harvey Greene should be shopping his resume because Miami has a serious public relations issue that is brewing out of control. Jeff Ireland may come off as a prick, but Ireland should not be in the media at all, the job belongs to Harvey Greene. The Dolphins need to change their approach to media relations and the past week should be all they need to know how important that change is.
The Dolphins are caught in this media frenzy because of their inability to understand the power of silence. After all the words about upgrading the QB position, Miami is in the same situation it was prior to free agency. The truth is, it may not be a bad place, but by setting the fans up for higher expectations, they have set themselves up for the backlash.
Peyton Manning signed a 5-year deal with Denver for $95-million, that’s $19-million a year. The Dolphins did not even have enough cap space to sign Manning for a single year at the price he was asking. Jeff Ireland and Stephen Ross had to know going in that Manning would be asking at least $15 million and that was more than Miami could afford without making drastic cuts.
A simple financial reality check would have been enough for the Dolphins to understand, Manning was out of their league. Manning and Tom Condon knew this going in and used Miami to exaggerate the price for Manning knowing full well the finances didn’t work. Ross and Ireland had no business setting up the fans for an expectation that was impractical and unrealistic.
Instead of coming out upfront and placing the onus on Manning’s camp by stating straight up, Miami would be a long shot because of financial constraints; they allowed the circus to roll. Manning was then able to say Miami was not a fit, when in reality, Manning was in it for the money and Miami couldn’t afford his inflated price. By stating their position early, they would have forced Manning to come out and say he wanted more money than Miami could afford and then Manning comes out looking greedy and the Dolphins walk away without inciting the fan base.
Matt Flynn started all of two games in his NFL career and yet his asking price was $8-million a year. No one knows whether Flynn will turn into the vaunted franchise QB everyone expects and yet his camp was asking Miami to break the bank on a hope that he would. Had Jeff Ireland and Stephen Ross used the media to portray the situation as it was happening, Flynn’s camp would have had to lay their cards on the table.
Many NFL teams follow the antiquated Parcells model of creating an acrimonious, closed lipped relationship with the media and the media then strikes back by painting the team in whatever light the writer wants. When the team says nothing, the fans have only the jaded media for information and that information is colored by the relationship the team has with the media. Miami continues to come out looking bad because they have fostered a negative relationship with the people who inform the public.
Flynn was not worth the contract he got in Seattle and when the media should be harping on how Seattle was taken to the bank by a two-start NFL back up, they instead focus on the tight-lipped Dolphins. Miami was absolutely correct in its dealings with Flynn, but instead being savvy businessmen, they are goats who couldn’t sign Flynn because he chose Seattle. Miami made a decision based on what they thought was right, by saying nothing they allow the media to create its own sensational spin.
Alex Smith will be entering his 7th season after being the first pick in the 2005 draft. He had one good season in 2011. There is a reason the 49ers allowed Smith to become a free agent and got involved in the Manning sweepstakes, because they didn’t think he was a franchise QB. The media had spun the Dolphins as a desperate team, willing to sign a QB San Francisco had left on the FA market.
Again, Miami did the right thing by not offering Smith more than he was worth. Smith and Condon again used the media to spin the Dolphins as an unacceptable choice for Smith, all the while Condon knew where Manning was headed. By Miami not saying anything, the media listened to the only voice available and Miami came out looking the fool.
The bottom line is, Harvey Greene is either being forced into silence or is incapable of keeping the Dolphins out of a negative light. Unfortunately, that light shines directly on Jeff Ireland and he takes all the wrath of the media frenzied fans. It's clear when the media is using quotes from the likes of Joey Porter or Channing Crowder as fact, Miami has a serious PR problem.
The problem is, it may be too late for the Dolphins to repair the damage already done by their insistence on media silence. The approach has worked for Bill Belichick because he has won Super Bowls with Tom Brady, but with the explosion of information available instantly on ESPN, the web, smart phones and blogs the approach can no longer work.
Miami must adapt to changing times, not only in the NFL but also the world in general, they are getting a firsthand example of how important this is. It doesn’t mean Miami has to be completely open with the media, but it does mean the PR department has to do a better job of foreseeing the impact of their actions and gain advantages when their deals have the potential to shed a negative light on the team.
Harvey Green has been with the Dolphins for 21 years and in that time many things have changed in the world of media relations. It is a sad time for a man like Greene who has been with the Dolphins dating back to Don Shula, but it is obvious, Greene has either no voice in the organization or his personality is not dominant enough to effect change.
Many of the decisions made in Miami have been a cause and affect action due to the response from media fueled fans. This has to stop, at this point, Jeff Ireland, Stephen Ross and the rest of the Dolphin brass look like bumbling buffoons, all while making what are probably the best decisions for the team. It all points to media relations gone terribly wrong. Something has to change and it’s probably Harvey Greene.