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Dolphins hurt after losing man you don't know

I remember enjoying the food and festive atmosphere at one of the Dolphins annual banquets a few years ago and complimenting a team official for the event.

"It didn't look like it was going to be much of an event last night," the official told me. "But Bryan Wiedmeier jumped in and started helping arrange tables and setting things up. Can you imagine any other NFL executive working like that with his hands? He even ordered pizza for everyone because the guys working late had missed dinner and were hungry."

The Miami Dolphins were lessened on Monday when the Cleveland Browns announced the hiring of Wiedmeier as their executive vice president for business administration. In that capacity, Wiedmeier will run the business side of that organization as he did with the Dolphins for much of his 29 seasons with the team.

You probably don't know about Wiedmeier because he was by no means the face of the franchise. He was a behind-the-scenes guy who toiled on things such as salary caps, and player contracts, and day-to-day operations of the team and practice facility.

But he was so much more than that.

Wiedmeier saw the need and helped establish the team's Community Relations department.

He saw the possibilities and helped establish the Miami Dolphins Foundation. The Miami Dolphins Foundation has made meaningful contributions to the South Florida community but it has also been active in helping former Dolphins players that needed help.

When Doug Betters became paralyzed after a ski accident, the Foundation came to his aid financially and in other ways. When Randy Wheeler, a practice squad player on the 1997 team, was paralyzed in an auto accident, the Foundation came to his aid, even purchasing him a van.

When Mark Duper and other former players teetered on becoming indigent, the Foundation propped them up. And this was done in keeping with Wiedmeier's personality -- quietly, out of the limelight.

Wiedmeier was Don Shula's capologist. He hired Matt Thomas, who is Bill Parcells' capologist. Wiedmeier was former club president Eddie Jones' right-hand-man. And when Jones retired, Wiedmeier was Wayne Huizenga's right-hand-man.

Yes, Wiedmeier was involved in those coaching searches that turned up Nick Saban and Cam Cameron -- nobody's perfect. But in November and early December of 2007, Wiedmeier was also part of the full franchise study ordered by Huizenga.

That study eventually led to the Parcells hiring.

Weidmeier was not loved by all his employees. But he was respected by most of them. He was big on structure. Big on purpose. Big on organization.

"Plan your work," he would tell staffers, "and work your plan."

He wasn't kidding. The guy had a five-year plan, an annual plan, a monthly plan.

"He put organization into chaos," one current staffer told me today.

Bryan Wiedmeier was a traditionalist. He was there when the Dolphins were a Super Bowl team. He worked for the team during Air Marino.

And so in 1997 when there was an internal debate about changing the Dolphins logo to some radicalized permutation not the least bit connected with the franchise's roots, Wiedmeier championed updating the logo, but never, ever discarding it.

He helped organize the Don Shula farewell celebration in 1996. He helped organize the Dan Marino farewell party at Dolphins Stadium in 2000. He helped organize the Don Shula birthday celebration earlier this month.

You probably never heard of Bryan Wiedmeier and that's the way he would want it.

But now that he belongs to the Cleveland Browns, that organization is improved. And the Dolphins are lessened. 

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