Bob Ackles, who was Jimmy Johnson's right-hand man in personnel matters from 1996 through January of 2000, has died.
Ackles suffered an apparent heart attack Sunday while on his boat, according The Canadian Press. He was 69 years old.
Ackles worked for the Dolphins, Cowboys, Eagles, Cardinals and in the CFL for the BC Lions. Following his five seasons with the Dolphins, he had a short stint with the Las Vegas Outlaws before that XFL team and the league went belly-up.
Ackles was hired by Johnson because he impressed the coach while both worked for the Dallas Cowboys in the early 90s. Ackles did everything from negotiate contracts to suggest player signings. His management style was sometimes brusque, sometimes haphazard. There were a couple of instances when he clashed with others within the Miami organization but generally he was well-liked. When Dave Wannstedt took over in 2000 Ackles was demoted and that ultimately hastened his departure by 2001.
Ackles' greatest contribution to the Dolphins was tapping into his CFL knowledge. He was the man most responsible for bringing guard Mark Dixon to the Dolphins. Dixon became a starter in 1998 and played at near Pro Bowl levels before being sidelined by injuries.
It was in the CFL that Ackles, a Canadian, made his greatest impact. He started out as the first water boy of the BC Lions in the 1950s. He was serving as the team's president and CEO when he passed. Ackles celebrated that rise by titling his autobiography The Water Boy.
He named his boat The Water Buoy. It was on that boat that Ackles breathed his last. He apparently was fetching a newspaper when he just dropped.
Ackles is survived by his wife Kay, two sons Scott and Steve, and five grandchildren.
Update: Dolphins head trainer Kevin O'Neill, one of the few remaining holdovers from the Johnson era, found out of Ackles' passing Sunday evening and informed the team. Today the Dolphins made a significant editing change to their media guide as it arrived at the printer. The 2008 Dolphins media guide will mark Ackles' passing and be dedicated to his memory.
Updated again: The Dolphins have released a statement from team president Bryan Wiedmeier. Here it is:
"We were saddened to learn about the untimely passing of our friend and colleague, Bob Ackles. During his time in Miami, no one worked harder than he did to maintain our success. He was highly respected by everyone he worked with, both within the Dolphin organization and throughout the National Football League.
“Bob started every day with a smile and kept that same upbeat disposition no matter the circumstances. As someone who worked his way up the pro football ladder from the bottom, he never forgot his roots. He would treat ball boys and interns the same way he did coaches and players -- with respect, appreciation, and admiration.
"He will be missed by everyone who was lucky enough to know him, and on behalf of the entire Dolphin organization I want to express our condolences to his wife, Kay, and his family.”