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Rooney Rule flub throws wrench in Tannenbaum authority

In announcing the hiring of Mike Tannenbaum as the Miami Dolphins executive vice president of football operations it became clear that general manager Dennis Hickey would report to Tannenbaum. It was clear because the Dolphins said it was.

"General Manager Dennis Hickey will report directly to Tannenbaum and will continue to lead the personnel and scouting departments and have control of the 53-man roster," is what the team's announcement of the Tannenbaum hiring said in the first paragraph.

Tannenbaum himself then repeated he was over Hickey. And while Hickey made the final call over personnel and the draft, let's face it, if he reported to Tannenbaum, the boss could ultimately make the underling make decisions he wants.

It's like you being able to decide your own schedule at work, until your boss says you have to work on a Friday you want to take off. That Friday, you work or you might end up out of a job. 

But that broad authority for Tannenbaum, the Dolphins found out today, created a problem.

Giving Tannenbaum such power would have required the Dolphins to conduct a Rooney Rule interview to at least consider filling the Tannenbaum role with a minority candidate. The Dolphins conducted no such interview.

So the NFL today contacted owner Stephen Ross to ask, well, why not?

And in answering, Ross changed Mike Tannenbaum's role on the spot.

"We have discussed the hiring of Mike Tannenbaum for a senior football position with Dolphins owner Steve Ross," an NFL spokesman told The Herald today. "Mr. Ross has confirmed that General Manager Dennis Hickey retains all of his prior authority over the draft and other personnel matters, and that Mr. Hickey will continue to report directly to Mr. Ross on these matters.  Any public statement to the contrary is erroneous and does not accurately reflect the reporting structure at the Dolphins."

So now Hickey reports directly to Ross even though yesterday the erroneous "public statement" to the contrary came from the Dolphins themselves and out of Mike Tannenbaum's own mouth.

"Coach (Joe) Philbin will continue to report to Steve Ross, and everybody else will report to me," Tannenbaum said.

Are you sure, Mike?

"Again, Dennis and all of the other departments will be reporting to me and, again, I think this is a real opportunity," Tannenbaum said. "Look, I sat in the seat of Dennis and knowing what that GM (General Manager) job entails, one of the things that I hope and I know Steve (Ross) hopes, is Dennis will have more time to worry about scouting and all of that entails and running the scouting department. There are a ton of administrative things that come across your desk that I’ll handle, working with Dawn Aponte and then, again, trying to take the big picture, when we see opportunities in analytics or innovation, trying to tie all of those things together. There are a lot of departments that go on in running a football team."

Well, that was yesterday. Today, Dennis Hickey does not report to Mike Tannenbaum on the things that matter -- the roster decisions, the draft. Everything else, Hickey reports to Tannenbaum.

Everything else for a Dolphins general manager with limited powers to start with, by the way, is nothing else.

And now let me ask some questions that reader Ryan Dunn pointed out: Shouldn't the Dolphins new vice president of football operations know the Rooney Rule? Shouldn't the owner who voted for the expansion of the Rooney Rule to include executives have been aware he was in danger of not being in compliance with the rule he voted for?

This is so Dolphins.