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Humiliation: Browns say Farmer not interviewing second time

So let me get this straight ... The assistant general manager for the Cleveland Browns is informed he is a finalist for the general manager job with the Miami Dolphins and after getting through an initial interview that reportedly went well, he declines to take the second interview because he has doubts about the Dolphins' football structure?

Can this really be?

Is the Dolphins' reputation around the NFL so soiled that even people working for the Browns -- the Browns! -- don't want more money, more power, and a chance to run the Dolphins front office?

Somebody wake me, because this is a nightmare.

Let's retrace some footsteps because if this is, in fact, what's going on, we've already stepped in something foul.

Farmer interviewed for the Dolphins job January 11 and I reported the interview was very good. Obviously, it turns out, the interview did go well because a couple of days ago the Dolphins decided Farmer would be one of their finalists interviewing this weekend for a chance to become the successor to Jeff Ireland.

But a not-funny thing happened on the way to that prized finalist interview. Farmer began to have second thoughts. As I reported Thursday, Farmer started to waiver about whether or not he wanted to interview again with the Dolphins because he was feeling uncertain or uncomfortable with the Dolphins football structure.

Farmer talked to the Dolphins for at least five hours in that first interview. He came to that interview with the blessing of former boss Carl Peterson, who hired Farmer during his time with the Chiefs and is now the top advisor to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross on this GM search. And after answering a bunch of questions and presumably asking some of his own, Farmer was still not sure he either understood or liked the Miami structure?

That's not all.

Was Farmer's concern so profound that even when the Fritz Pollard Alliance strongly recommended he take the follow-up interview so he could get his clarification, Farmer still declined?

Well, that's apparently exactly what happened as on Thursday afternoon, Cleveland Browns CEO Joe Banner told a group of huddled reporters that Farmer was staying with the Browns rather than interview again with the Dolphins, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Quentin Tarrantino at the height of a drug-induced inspiration could not make this stuff up.

So I have questions that frankly make me wonder about both Farmer and the Dolphins.

1. To Farmer, if you were still uncertain or uncomfortable with the Dolphins structure at the end of that initial interview, why didn't you say so then? Did this discomfort or uncertainty suddenly dawn on you or did you find out new things about the Dolphins in the days following the interview?

2. To Farmer, you worked under Peterson for years. Obviously Peterson thinks very highly you. So if you were uncertain or uncomfortable about the Dolphins structure, couldn't you just call Peterson and ask for clarity? Why the big public unveiling of this issue that makes neither the Dolphins nor you look good?

3. To the Dolphins, is the phrase, "Do you have any questions for us? Are you completely comfortable with where we are right now?" foreign? After all, that kind of covers everything. If Farmer felt any degree of discomfort near the end of his interview, that phrase would have definitely opened the door to the airing of that discomfort.

4. To the Dolphins, how could you not know Farmer had issues with your structure?

5. To the Dolphins, did you interview a candidate and then anoint him a finalist without any clue he doesn't think highly of what you are proposing as the job structure?

6. To the Dolphins, aren't you starting to get a clue that something is seriously wrong with, well, you? Look, when one candidate declines to interview, that's understandable. When two candidates decide your interview offer is not for them, that's kind of worrisome but not terribly. But four candidates declined to take even initial interviews with you and a fifth man, who was open minded enough to take the initial interview, decided that familiarity with you was a reason to stay away in the future.

It's not them, my dear Dolphins franchise, it's you!

It's not the media with an agenda. It's not tough luck. It's not the competition conspiring against you. It is you!

Now, for the sake of full disclosure, Dolphins sources insist it is not them. (On a couple of counts, such as the initial and incorrect Jason Licht story about him being offered the job and this evening's CYA suggestion by one national reporter that Lake Dawson didn't become a finalist until after Farmer had second thoughts, it is indeed the media).

The message I get from the Dolphins is that every candidate is made aware he will be reporting directly to owner Stephen Ross. Every candidate is aware he will not be under either coach Joe Philbin or executive vice president of football administration Dawn Aponte. Every candidate is aware he also will definitely not be over Philbin and probably not Aponte as well. Both Aponte and Philbin will answer to Ross.

Aponte, I am told, has no secret sinister plans to take over as undercover GM.

So where is the misunderstanding?

Are the Dolphins not relaying that message clearly? Is there a communication disconnect? Is the team, through sources, saying one thing to me and then another to candidates? I don't know for sure. I'm not in the interviews.

(Maybe the Dolphins should embed me this weekend for their own well being -- like the military embeds war correspondents. It protects them.). 

All I know is this is not the first humiliation the Dolphins suffer lately. It's starting to get really, really old when the Dave Wannstedt disaster is the good old days.