The Miami Dolphins on Tuesday underwent a significant and fundamental shift in approach that should interest every fan because while team sources were saying that nothing has changed, indeed, everything has changed.
The club announced in a three-sentence e-mailed statement that Bill Parcells was no longer the football czar, but now a consultant, and that Jeff Ireland was now assuming "full control over all aspects and decisions in regard to the Miami Dolphins football team and support staff."
Before that announcement the Dolphins were, in fact, a two-headed monster.
The Dolphins were a football team located in their Davie, Florida training facility and headed by Parcells as the executive vice president for football operations. And the Dolphins also were a business and marketing operation located at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens and headed by CEO Mike Dee.
Parcells answered only to owner Stephen Ross. Dee answered only to Ross, as well.
But even as these two men rarely crossed paths, even as they served entirely different purposes for the same organization, the power, the prestige and the pull undoubtedly belonged to Parcells and the football side of the operation.
Parcells, with a resume that includes two Super Bowl rings and a history for making winners out of losers, had done precisely that in 2008 when he authored an 11-5 rebirth for Miami out of the ashes of a 1-15 season in 2007. That meant that pretty much anything Parcells wanted, Parcells got.
So even as the Dolphins football side and marketing/business side could not be more opposite in their approach, most every decision that had to be made was almost always made in favor of the football side of the operation.
And the football and business side did clash at times because they are so dissimilar.
The football side loves anonymity and a lunch-pail approach. They hire men that work behind facemasks and they enjoy the reputation of being somewhat aloof and mysterious.
The marketing side is out there and Hollywood, if you will. The marketing side ipainted the stadium in some hideous color scheme, installed an orange carpet entrance and invited celebrities to come see the product and be seen enjoying the product. The marketing side is building a nightclub at the stadium.
The marketing side also spent approximately $3 million to build a radio network and new website to promote the team and, ultimately, sell tickets and make money.
But when the marketing side wanted the football side to help promote the product, the team, the whole organization, the football side could successfully balk by using the Parcells approach as cover. Parcells didn't want his name on billboards, didn't want players shooting Christmas videos for the stadium's big screen replay board during football season, didn't want any distractions that could in any fashion detract the focus from, well, football.
And again, whatever Parcells said was law.
But Parcells has stepped aside now. He's done so willingly, by all accounts, although he has given no explanation for doing so. Parcells did not take four phone calls from The Herald on Tuesday.
But willingly or not, planned or not, Parcells has put Ireland front and center of the football operation.
And while Mike Dee was not Bill Parcells' boss he will hold sway over Jeff Ireland that he never did over Parcells. So Jeff Ireland may not be able to shield the football operation from the business and marketing arm like Parcells did -- just because-I-say-so-style.
The power has shifted from the football side of the operation to the business and marketing side of the operation now. It may not be immediately obvious to outsiders. But eventually the signs of the shift that took place Tuesday will be obvious.
[Broadcast note: The Parcells move and its ramifications will be the primary topic on my radio show, Armando and the Amigo, on Wednesday. We'll have receiver Brian Hartline, Bills strong safety George Wilson, and others on air to discuss what this means for Sunday's season-opener. Former QB Art Schlichter will also be on the show to discuss the Ohio State versus University of Miami tilt.]