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Commentary: What exactly is Dolphins' next general manager getting himself into?

Exclusivity drives American culture. It is ingrained in our societal DNA.

The hottest clubs are the ones with the longest lines.

Michael Jordan's brand is entering its third decade as the hottest basketball sneaker in the world because of how limited a release the majority of his sneakers are a given. The thirst for re-issued Jordan's explains why they regularly sell out in minutes, and reportedly generate more than $1 billion in annual sales.

Whether it is expensive cars, exclusive watches or purses, we want things that are difficult to come by, and that happens to be what the Miami Dolphins are offering.

This past week the Dolphins interviewed at least six candidates for one of 32 general manager positions in the NFL.

Only 32 people in the world select the talent for an NFL team as a GM. The Dolphins have one of two openings this year, competing only with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their search to replace Jeff Ireland.

Problem is, because a handful of qualified individuals turned down the opportunity to interview for the position there is this perception the job is neither desirable, nor a good opportunity.

Neither of which are true. Especially if you ask NFL individuals like Rod Graves, Gene Smith and Scott Pioli, who have been to the top of the mountain and want to get back, or junior level executives who have labored for a decade trying to work their way up.

Eric DeCosta, Tom Gamble, George Paton and Scot McCloughan all declined a sit-down interview with the Dolphins. And there's still some uncertainty whether Marc Ross will meet with owner Steve Ross and his council.

And my response is ... so what.

All had their reasons to stay where they are. Their level of disinterest does create some questions. But just because one qualified candidate -- or four -- shoots you down, doesn't mean the right person isn't out their looking for you.

Like any job, there are positives about the Dolphins' GM position, and then there are some draw backs.

The Dolphins have an owner in Ross who has consistently shown patience with his GMs and head coaches. Probably too much patience. Ross has also proven he spares no expense when it comes to building a winning organization.

Problem is Ross doesn't know what it takes to build an elite franchise, and the advice he's been given up to this point has been sketchy.

The Dolphins will have roughly $29 million in cap space this offseason, and can create even more by restructuring a few deals. The Dolphins presently have the sixth most cap space in the NFL. For comparison sake, the Buccaneers presently have a little under $13 million in cap space.

Problem is the next GM will have to listen to Dawn Aponte on all matters regarding the salary cap because the team's vice president of football administration calls the shots when it comes to the franchise's finances.

The Dolphins have a pretty decent crop of talent, which includes a decent, young quarterback, four Pro Bowlers, and a trio of talented young pass rushers.

Problem is eight of the team's starters are free agents, and there are some glaring positions (offensive line and linebacker) that need to be addressed immediately.

The next general manager will have final say on his roster according to Ross. Some NFL GMs don't even control their team's personnel. In Tampa Bay, newly hired coach Lovie Smith is the man in charge, and the same goes for Philadelphia and many other franchises.

People claim the Dolphins' front office structure is murky, but it is no different now than in the two previous seasons under Ireland's reign. Ireland didn't fire Tony Sparano, and he didn't hire Joe Philbin. Ross did.

Most GMs don't hire or fire their team's head coach, so why do does the next GM need to possess that power?

These types of unique opportunities -- the chance to shop for an NFL team's groceries, and build your own staff -- don't come around every day, or year. Someone hungry enough will want it, and the hope is he'll make the most of his rare opportunity.

(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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