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Loyalty no longer an NFL tenet

Loyalty schmoloyalty!

Long ago, when I moved over to NFL coverage after covering the University of Miami for much of its football and baseball heyday, I was still bought in to the idea of team loyalty -- athlete to team, team to athlete.  I truly believed that athletes cared about playing for their team as part of a heartfelt tie to the colors, the city, the organization, the relationships, all that. And that teams felt a tie and kinship to their core players.

The idea was alive and well before free agency (I covered the Dolphins before the advent of free agency) but, I must admit, my beliefs began to change in Dan Marino's final days. The Dolphins, unwilling to carry the legend that had carried the franchise for so many years, cut Marino.

Marino did the noble thing and refused to cut ties with the Dolphins. He declined a couple of offers to go elsewhere and retired instead.

But the die was cast. I recognized that football is a business. Period. Loyalty is a viable bond only as long as the two parties are serving one another. And when that service no longer benefits one of the two parties, no history, nor heartstring, nor contract can keep the athlete and the team loyal one to another.

We have seen more than our share of examples of that through the years and, particularly, in recent weeks. Recently the Dolphins fired coach Tony Sparano despite the fact he had two more years left on his contract. Sparano was working for the Jets, a team he despised during his Miami tenure, within a couple of weeks of the regular season's end.

Last week we learned that Chad Pennington, who played for the Jets before he finished his career (apparently) with the Dolphins, has been tutoring Jets QB Mark Sanchez. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com reported Pennington, armed with a Dolphins playbook from the Sparano days, tutored Sanchez on what is expected to be his new system.

So the QB that left the Jets to come to Miami is now helping the Jets QB learn the Dolphins playbook likely to be used by the old Dolphins head coach who is now the Jets offensive coordinator. And if that doesn't cross loyalty lines, here's the kicker: That QB learning the old Dolphins system to use in New York might not be the Jets starter in 2012 if the Jets replace him with Peyton Manning, who is presumed to be departing Indianapolis after 14 great seasons because, well, because his time is apparently up.

Speaking of Manning, the day of decision for him comes this week, no later than Thursday. Despite my very well read Sunday column on why I don't like the idea of Manning to the Dolphins, it seems clear the Dolphins are going to be in line for him once he's released -- assuming the Colts do not pay the $28 million bonus due him that date.

The club's priority is not to trade a bounty of draft picks or combination of picks and players to the St. Louis Rams for the right to draft Robert Griffin III, according to several NFL sources, one of which works for the Dolphins.

Miami's talk with the Rams the past few weeks was preliminary and not by any means a signal that a trade is imminent. Simply, the Dolphins have apparently decided their priority is to get a free agent franchise QB -- albeit an aged, injured one -- than to gut their draft for a potential draft-day franchise quarterback who has yet to prove himself.

The only way the Dolphins are even players on the RG3 front going forward is if Manning goes elsewhere, such as Washington, Kansas City or, yes, the Jets.

Oh, and about that loyalty thing?

Manning is said to be ready for the eventual moment when he's no longer a Colt. He wants to stay in Indianapolis, I'm told by NFL people. He wants to finish his career with one team. But that team isn't going to be paying him $28 million on Thursday.

So the sides are more likely than not splitting -- loyalty to one another be darned.


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I've said this before. FANS are the only loyal party to teams. GMs come and go, HC's come and go, players come and go. Fans are the ones that carry the water, give their support through thick or thin. Owners need to listen to fans or find themselves digging in their pockets (like Ross) to pay to avoid blackouts.

Loyalty? PSSSSHH please.. These guys coaches and players, get paid million of dollars too play a sport for living. Believe it or not thats there prioroity, not winning championships not playing for your beloved teams but MONEY. And by the way after Marino's performance in his last playoff game he deserved to be cut.

Oh yea Flaco, Ryan and Sanchez werent the main reason there teams made it to the playoffs, it was decent talent they had around these guys. Notice, none of these QB's are considered elite. Manning in his last season threw for over 30 TD's and makes players around him better, the QB's I just mentioned are better than advertised because of there teammates.

Speaking on behalf of the donkey brigade or buffet of donkeys ... personally I think being called a donkey can be a compliment. Its a very hard working and industrious animal.

Anywhooo, personally I prefer getting rg3 too. But don't think it will be all sunshine and farts if rg3 comes here. Initially there will he a rookie salary curve as DC said, then you will suffer the consequences of giving up so many picks to make the trade and there will be very little talent infusion for a couple of years. Then maybe after year five or so you will be in the position of accumulating enough talent to surround the guy to be a true contender. So if he's blessed to he healthy in five years and productive, then you will be able to be in a good position. So there is significant risk with making that trade, more than signing peyton in my opinion.

Doubt me? Look what happened to the giants after making the Eli trade. They were horrible for a few years for suffering the consequences of a rookie qb and then losing picks. And we are talking about giving up more than the giants did for Eli. And also keep in mind that things could not have gone any better for the giants for making that trade. It truly was a best case scenario and still things were hairy for a while and many fans wanted to kill the guy. If he wasn't as mentally strong as he was, it would have never worked.

Think about that for a while.

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | March 05, 2012 at 10:29 AM

There is NO WAY in hell Manning goes to the Jets; the Manning family is way too classy to be associated with Rex Ryan; Manning will not want the hype of the circus that would surround he and his family in New York due to the brothers thing; Manning does not want to play with receivers like Holmes who are as selfish as they come, AND he would be having to run Tony Sparanos playbook! The last one makes me laugh more than any of the other reasons.

And Washington doesn't seem likely because he would be in the same division as Eli, more of the circus fears.

ARIZONA is the only team that has a shot imo besides Miami and their defense is a mess. Get used to Manning folks, it looks like the Dolphins are in the drivers seat.

LOYALTY........ MY FOOT........




I think Armando is deleting comments that talk about what an idiot he is on this manning thing.


ALoco, I love your stuff but I'm firmly in the manning camp. Been there since October if we weren't in the position to get an elite qb talent in the draft and it appears it wiki he very expensive in the least and frankly I don't really blame them for not paying the rg3 cost. Its a tough and really close call.

And about loyalty ...

Cris Carter in what are his priorities ...

"What do I care about? Me and my money!'

And frankly I don't blame them. For us , football is entertainment and passion. For players, its their livelihoods.

Personally I would take a little less money to stay in a good situation where I'm established and respected but I'm not going to take a lot less money. Lets be real.

Craig I read your post from the last blog and fully agree. That coupled in with the fact that we would have to give up so many picks. And as Mark pointed out we most likely wouldn't be able to put talent around him for a few years which would be the same time the phins would have to start worrying about the possible contract situation. Too many variables.

Once again I'm not worried about him reinjuring the area because it doesn't happen. This surgery is usually performed on running backs and linebackers, most of whom recovered and went back to being hit on every down without incident. Manning is a qb and doesn't take half of the abuse that the lbs and rbs do. The worry is the nerve. If he gets his strength back then Manning will be a top 5 qb in the league for the next three years. Where do I sign up?

The other thing that pisses me off is the notion that by drafting RGIII, 'we'll be set for the next 10-15 years'. Listen, I like the kid and I think he'll be a good QB in the NFL but there are NO guarantees that any QB stays in the same place for 10-15 years any more. Peyton's the exception and he's done after 12. I believe under the new CBa players can be UFA's after 4 years (maybe I'm wrong, maybe it's 5). Regardless, under the new CBA rookie deals are MUCH smaller than they used to be and I think we'll see more and more guys trying to strike it rich when their rookie deals are up. That's their chance to cash in. So this 'we'll be set for the next 10-15 years' nonsense needs to stop. Today's NFL doesn't work that way. And I haven't even factored in injuries or poor play or off-field problems. Guys through this '10-15 years ' around like it's etched in stone and it's not...it's total BS.
Posted by: Craig M | March 05, 2012 at 10:31 AM

Hey there it is again :)

This article is stupid. Jason Taylor also went to the jets. Obviously loyalty is a marginal concept. It's a business. People want to get paid. I would. Come up with some interesting stuff Mando, and if you don't have anything interesting wait until you do. This was a waste of time.

I don't get whay guys are scared of adding Manning. I keep hearing 'he's 36'. Who cares! Are you telling me if Brady was available you wouldn't be interested?....he's 34! Manning is one of the smartest, most prepared QB to ever play this game. Go back to the season before he got hurt, just a short season ago. He still had it before the surgeries. So we sign this guy and it doesn't work out.....big deal! I would have to think the cap ramifications would be minimal. The rest of you are suggesting we pass on Manning and Flynn while they are available as FA's and putting all your eggs in one basket trading multiple picks for RGIII. I don't get that. Who has the leverage in a situation like that St. Louis or Miami? The team that NEEDS to draft a young kid or the team that knows you need to draft a young kid. Roll the dice on Manning AND draft a young kid....just don't spend multiple picks trading for him.
Posted by: Craig M | March 05, 2012 at 10:42 AM

The thing I worry about most with Manning is he won't allow Philbin to implement HIS system until he leaves. To me, that might be problematic long-term. We need systems in place so that once a player leaves, the whole ball of wax doesn't come crumbling down. So you can just plug in another player and get similar results.

If Manning insists on running HIS offense, instead of the HC/OC's, then no system will be put in place (at least until Manning leaves). To me that's the danger of Manning, because, like Pennington, any improvement on the team might be short-lived. I'm hoping Manning will accept playing under Philbin's offense so he can implement a system that can carry over after Manning leaves.

I don't understand those worried about giving up picks. Really. How do you expect to get a young QB with true franchise potential?

Unless we go 3 and 13, we won't be drafting high enough, and any seriously good FA QB is going to cost a bundle too. You get what you pay for. Manning is only kicking the can down the road another two years.

Those of you say lets groom a QB behind Manning, please tell me what QB Manning has ever groomed into starter material? Just because they ride the pine behind Manning doesn't mean they will be gold afterwards. That approach is just more of the same, hoping some later round pick is a diamond in the rough.

Interesting stuff about RG3 Mando. Another blown opportunity by the Dolphins to NOT do the aggressive, bold, RIGHT thing.


I agree with you about Manning and the Jets but I still think Washington will be players in the sweepstakes. I think Manning would welcome the opportunity to go head to head with his brother in the same division twice a year. He's a competitve guy and I think he'll look at Washington as having a pretty good defence, money to spend in FA and the opportunity to work with Shanahan. To me they'll be our biggest competition. I guess the 'Skins will have to decide if they want to chase Manning or RGIII. That part I don;t know.

My perfect scenario would be to sign Manning and then trade our 4th to move up in the second to draft Tannehill if necessary. Groom the kid behind Peyton. If the organization is going all in on Peyton they had better be thinking this way. To have Peyton would be invaluable to a rookie Qbs learning curve. I don't care if they like a dif qb in the draft just grab who you believe in and let him learn from a hall of famer.

What playbook is Sparano using with the Jets?

A Henning/Daboll hybrid?

Good luck with that. That's what got him fired!

Secondly, Armando you are just figuring out now about loyalty and business? I figured that out as a teenager.

Clyde, the grooming won't be done by Manning. It'll be done by the Coaches. Manning can help (if he wants), but even being in the headsets, talking to Manning when he gets off the field would be helpful to rookie learning the NFL game.

However, on your main point, I agree. There's risk/reward on ANY option the team chooses. Giving up picks wouldn't be so bad if RG3 turned into an Aaron Rodgers. Or they could be back-breaking if he becomes Vince Young. Unless a team is in position to do so (like 2008), they most likely will have to extend themselves to get a franchise QB via the Draft, that's the chances they have to take. Million Dollar question is, can you ever win without doing that?

Why do you suspect the Colts are letting this go to the wire especially if they wind up cutting Manning? Was it because of that signing bonus he received when he initially signed his extension and hasnt taken a snap in a practice or game for it? Or are the Colts attempting to re-structure his current contract?

Thanks for the post Mando. You make me think. And now that I'm thinking, I'm thinking if the Dolphins don't get Manning or Flynn or Griffin, I'm not buying any tickets this year.

I'm not a season holder, but I purchase four or five games on an individual basis. No more if they don't show some loyalty to ME.


No QB has ever developed behind Manning because Polian made it a priority not to draft a high draft choice at QB. It has nothing to do with not devloping a QB. He took the approach of having a backup on the roster, not a guy that would ever seriously threaten to take Peyton's job. Name one QB you feel should have developed into a starter since Manning was drafted? You can't....because there was never any. It's just a different philosophy than how a team like GB does things and it's a big reason why they were 2-14 last year. We're talking about guys like Jim SOrgi and Curtis Painter. These guys were never going to be starters in the NFL.

Clyde the man wrote he saw the workings of loyalty (or lack thereof) a decade ago not just now.

So when are you figuring out how to read?

Qualifying my post @ 11:02am, I meant to reach for a consensus-pick in the Draft (like a Luck or RG3). Obviously, teams have and will stumble onto a franchise QB at any point in the Draft, since it's a hit-and-miss business.

I just don't see it working out in Washington for Peyton. Even throwing away the Eli thing Peyton likes the dome. No the Phins don't have one but they also don't have a possible 4 to 6 home games in freezing weather. And Washington is going to have to pull the trigger before free agency aren't they? How does that time line work out? I guess if everyone goes through free agency fully before signing Manning they would have a good shot. I don't know, just confused about the timing of things right now.

Phins78 at 11am,

Exactly the plan I would like to see. Might be necessary to get back into the first round to grab Tannehill because I worry if the 'Skins don't get RGIII or Manning they will target Tannehill. But I'm guessing that's what you meant in moving up in the second. To me this would be the ideal scenario. How about starting the offseason with Manning, Ingram and Tannehill.....brilliant!

I really scared.
6 hours to go.
Please Miami don't franchise Henne.
I not a swallower.

DC, so what I am saying is, I don't see how we are not just following the same failed formula by not making a play for a high round QB that looks like a good bet. For sure its a gamble, no way to avoid that, you have to pick and choose when is the right time to do it, and be right. I'd rather try and fail than stick with a failed plan from the get go. I admire Peyton as much as anyone, but I don't like all the unknowns surrounding his situation coupled with the fact he is a very short term solution best case scenario.

Clue, it's "their" to show possession. Basic 1st grade stuff here. Their!!!! There is a place. They're is a contraction for "they are."

Those that say well we can just draft Barkley next year...well that won't be any easier unless we finish in the bottom 3. At some time, you have to pull the trigger. This team is long overdue.

DC -- PLUS - The new QB will also be learning while watching tape and going over the offense game plan for the week.

I also doubt Manning would impose his own offense. I believe he his a professional and will run whatever offense he goes to. That as always is just my own humble opinion but I just can't see Manning trying something like that.

Clyde -- are you saying Manning isn't a team player and does not offer any help to the backup or that his FO never got a good enough QB to sit behind Manning?


You may well be right. I just figured, Washington has a ton of money to spend in FA. If they could add a WR or two (let's say a Vincent Jackson or a Bowe) and maybe couple that with adding a Reggie Wayne and if they improve their running game, it might be appealing to Manning. You mention playig outdoors in the cold and you're right, but he may have that in Miami too, going to place like Buffalo, New York, New England, Pitt etc...I agree with you it may be a factor but maybe not as much as we think. Who knows...

Yeah Craig I can't wait to get this thing going. I just have a geeling Miami is going to be making some big moves this offseason for a change. But I really hope they dont mortgage the future because Ross wants out of the dog house and realizes most fans wont look past this season. Signing Manning is fine but be careful about what you do the rest of the way. They need to act like a competent team and have aneye on the present as well as the future instead of one at a time.

Had the Miami Dolphins, which is, incontrovertibly, an absolute *garbage* organization, allowed Sparano to finish out his contract, the following things would be facts:

1. We'd have finished 8-8 last year.
2. We'd be ready to go 12-4 this year and play in AFC Championship game.
3. We'd be ready to go 14-2 and go to Super Bowl in 2014.

These coaches are interchangeable. The teams that win do it with consistency and patience.

Yes I have a geeling. Or feeling. Whatever

Texas, I'm only saying people just can't expect drafting a later round QB will be any better than the last several we chose simply because they are groomed behind Manning.

...I cannot wait until the is whole "Manning Gate" story is over..It has held this blog hostage like the multiple personalities that frequent these same pages. Personally I wish there was a ban on anymore posts that mention Mannings name until after the Colts make their decision...Of course this is just my opinion, and obviously by the content here each day..I am the minority.

I understand that the Phins are in the hunt for a quarterback. I also understand that the position is crucial to our success as a team. That we have an opportunity to address the position, and that we all want to show support for "our guy"..Everything has been said about all of these guys a thousand times over. What else is there to say?

Craig I just heard Redskins may be getting in trouble for the bounty thing as well. They could stand to lose a draft pick but most likelywill be fined. We will have to stay tuned, could effect the Manning thing.

Ryan Leaf, How about you stop trolling and use the real name you post under puss.


I brought this point up on the weekend:

The flaw is Miami's drafting is not taking chances, it's consistently missing on picks and giving them up for bit pieces. Two firsts for Ricky Williams, two seconds for Brandon Marshall, a second for Culpepper, a second for AJ Feely, a third of Lamarr Gordon, a fifth for Thigpen, a fifth for Trent Green. All these add up. On top of all that, missed picks on Jon Avery, Eddie Moore, Pat White, John Beck, Chad Henne, Fletcher, Yatil Green, Ted Ginn and on and on....All those missed picks add up.

If you model the top franchises, like GB and Pitt, they hit more often on their picks, don't throw the picks around like they are candy and don't have a need to make these splash trades. How many of these trade ups can you name that have actually helped? Cause I can rythmn off a bunch that haven't worked...

Yeah I realize the flaw in my theory about the cold. Buffalo isn't a fun place to play at in December.

Clyde -- That is true. It can't be any QB on the list. It would have to be the right QB. But the chance has to be taken for the long term if Manning becomes a Dolphin. It goes with that saying "you can't win if you don't play." You have to play and take some chances. IMO anyway.


Assuming they add Manning, what else do you think they might do this offseason? Thye don't have a lot of cap space to work with. I wonder if we might see restructures on a couple of contracts....maybe guys like Dansby, Marshall and Long. I'd chop Bell at some point and replace him with a guy the safety in Cinci. I'm not sure they are going to have much money to work with but I'd be happy if they added a guy like Wayne as well. That would be enough for me, to be honest, on top of the other moves e mentioned.

Mrs. Sparano you're "facts" suspiciously resemble opinions. You are just as clueless as your husband. Have fun in NY and make sure you show your breasts to the fans so they don't throw beer bottles at you. Yes, another classy thing Jets fans love to do.

Mando, I disagree about your Mannining view only if Ireland is not planning on drafting rg3 or Tanneyhill or Weeden. Signing Manning alone would be rediculous. Another option for them could be to trade back a few spots for someones #1 pick next year. Having 2 first rounders next year would give them enough ammo to get a top ranked qb next year.

Craig, not sure of your angle. Miami has messed up a lot of picks. But Miami doesn't pick, its the ever changing FO that picks. So, bottom line is you need an FO that can evaluate talent better. If Philbin and Sherman do not think RG3 has the potential, then I would respect their opinion, but if they do believe in the kid, I'm all for making a serious move. Not knowing what they think clouds the issue, so I just go on my own opinion.

I know people will disagree, but i hope they give Henne one last look before cutting ties. His career with the Fins imploded so quickly, maybe a new coach would turn this guy around (e.g. Alex Smith).

Happy to hear their considering not handing over our draft to STL.

Turd Ferguson,

Your point is well made and is something I didn't think of. Adding Manning opens up a world of possibilities. They could choose to trade this year's first for a first next year and something else. I wouldn't be opposed to that. I feel they have to address pass rush, but if they have a way to do it other than picking him at 8, I'd be open to that. If having an extra first next year meant more ammo to draft a QB early next year, I'd be open to that.

Henne fukkin sucks plain and simple.

..Craig M. I think one of the reasons in football that "big trades" seem to rarely pay off is because football is the ultimate team game..Those trades excite the fan base..Offer hope. But the franchises you mentioned above rarely reach because they are solid up and down the roster..In baseball, or basketball. 1 or 2 huge free agents pickups make immediete differences because they do not rely on multiple moving parts for success. In football more then any other team sport...If the other 10 guys on the field aren't on the same page..You get exposed. Super star player or scrub..The other sports. Individuals can overcome and hide teamates shortcomongs much easier.

This post was a snoozer!! ZZZZZzzzzz

If Jesus came down and bless Henne he'll still find some way to suck

Let's not forget, RG3 does not come from the Manning genes like Eli did. It is possible none of the teams in the hunt will pay the Rams price and that price may go down.


A lot of really good points at 11:33am.

Mannings just using the Dolphins to get a better deal from the Colts.

Maybe the play here is to trade up to #3 now while the price is not going to be as high. Then you call the Rams bluff, if they don't get a partner, they will still pass on RG3. If they do get a partner, well we are in position for Blacmon and avoid a huge bidding war. Just a thought.

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