Mike Tannenbaum got his job, at least in part, because he impressed upon owner Stephen Ross the need to upgrade the Miami Dolphins in an outside-the-box fashion. And as sports science and analytics is still outside the box in traditional NFL circles, the team's new executive vice president of football operations is not only on board but is leading the team's charge to use the resource.
That's why Tannenbaum promised to upgrade Miami's sports science program when he got hired. And Saturday the promise was kept, with the Dolphins' hiring of Wayne Diesel as sports performance director, and the promotion of Dennis Lock to director of analytics after he served last year as head analyst.
Tannenbaum is serious about this. This weekend Tannenbaum, Diesel, Lock, and assistant strength and conditioning coach Dave Puloka are attending the 2015 Sloan Analytics Conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
So there's that.
In his role, Diesel will oversee all of the team’s sports science initiatives and will work with the training and strength and conditioning departments. His focus will include player injury prevention and rehabilitation in an effort to. as the team put it in its press release, "reach optimal performance."
Diesel joins the Dolphins after spending the previous eight years (2007-2015) as head of medical services with the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club of the English Premier League.
(Yeah, UK Dolphins fans who root for Arsenal may have a problem loving this move).
With Tottenham, Diesel oversaw the efforts of doctors, physiotherapists, sports scientists, podiatrists, nutritionists and chiropractors, and helped coordinate the medical service department’s work to optimize player recovery and prevent injuries.
So it is clear the Dolphins, who under Ross have added multiple layers of people on the business and personnel side, are now adding a layer to the medical department.
Before his arrival at Tottenham, Diesel held the same title of head of medical services from 2003-07 at Charlton Athletic Football Club.
NOTE: I wish the English would figure out we Americans play football and they play soccer.
(Yeah, here come the globalists to the defense of soccer).
But I digress.
Diesel has 12 years of experience running private physiotherapy practices, including setting up the first physiotherapy practice at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa based in Cape Town. While in South Africa, he worked as head physiotherapist for a range of different sports, including national women’s gymnastics, men’s hockey, swimming, football and rugby as well as provincial cricket and football. Additionally, Diesel was appointed as the head physiotherapist for South African teams at the All African (1992), Olympics (1996) and Commonwealth Games (1998). He also held the position of president of South African Transplant Games Association and western province chairman of South African Sports Medicine Association.
A native of South Africa, Diesel graduated in 1986 as a physiotherapist from the University of Witwatersrand (the University of Witcementconcrete didn't offer him a scholarship, apparently) and then gained a first class pass in sports science in 1988 allowing him to proceed directly to a PhD in exercise physiology, which was completed in 1994.
I gave you an example of the team's commitment to sports science last year. And I'm not saying the Dolphins are going to be the Philadelphia 76ers, who are living and dying by the analytics sword.
But trying this cannot hurt. I applaud Tannenbaum and Ross for doing whatever they can to help the team. I would love to see a chart at the end of 2015 marking the number of injuries and the speed of recovery in the coming season compared to the last five-ten years.