It all started at halftime with a locker room crash as their season melted on the field. Coach Brian Flores was pissed at the dull half of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. He said things. Tua said something in return.
Anger flew in. The word with the letter “f” – sigh! – bargained. Tua said something about Flores not being able to talk to people. Flores said something about the need for better bipping play.
This led to a string of equally heated conversations that led to owner Steve Ross firing Flores on Monday.
“Communication and collaboration,” Ross said, “were Flores’s sins when he was fired.
“Disrespect” is the word that the source says Ross felt for Flores in one of his conversations.
Flores is rude to people. Without a doubt. He speaks harshly with players and staff. No questions. What did you expect from someone old school Bill Belichick from New England?
But this disgusting Tua tirade and other anecdotes I’ve heard would not have made the top 100 “communication and collaboration” issues within the Dolphins franchise over the years. He would not have made it to the top 50 with just the Hall of Fame members.
Don Shula’s office language was so loud that some of the team’s business leaders once reached out to the team’s middleman to convey their request to soften it. “Tell them to fuck off,” Shula replied.
His weekly conversation with NFL official Art McNally about the referee of a previous game was so loud behind his closed door that secretaries and coaches stopped their work and cringed in laughter at the language.
What about the players? Shula once scolded defender Glenn Blackwood so hard in a game that the veteran was found crying on the bench. Shula and Jake Scott fired bombs at each other as daily greetings. He cursed rookie midfielder John Offerdal so harshly on the sideline that the young man walked into the coach’s office and said he would not take it anymore.
– What to take? – said Shula. It was so trite that he had no idea what Offerdal was talking about.
Do you want the problem of “partnership” with the Dolphins quarterback? Let’s talk about Dan Marino. His offensive coordinator Dave Shula upset him so badly in pregame practice that his teammates had to keep him from attacking the coach.
“I’m going to fucking kill him,” Marino said.
Another Hall of Fame coach in the form of Nick Saban – certainly from the College Hall of Fame – once in training took part in such a loud and screaming match with future Hall of Fame midfielder Zach Thomas that the team is legendary.
Saban said he would put Thomas on the bench. Thomas said that he was not some kind of student.
“I’m a grown man!” Thomas shouted to him.
Another NFL Hall of Fame coach, Jimmy Johnson, once fielded a contract offer from receiver agent Lamar Thomas in the dressing room in front of many hitters. “I’m not even wiping my ass off with it,” he said.
Does it help? Do you realize that the trainer is often a lion tamer in his daily work? This is no ordinary workplace with normal professionals. This does not at all make everything that Flores did right. But does it make you wonder what kind of organization Ross is heading when issues of “communication and cooperation” rather than football issues led to the manager’s firing?
Not every Dolphin coach used bad words. Cam Cameron, for example. He had a rule not to use foul language. One day, he called coach Kevin O’Neill and asked him if he really scolded the player. O’Neill said he did it because the player ignored three requests and scolded him.
So rotten, is 1-15 Cam Cameron standard now? Do Dolphins run an elementary school or a professional soccer team?
Flores is definitely hard to get along with. The revolving door of the offensive headquarters was Example A. Also, Flores and general manager Chris Greer could have been fired for failing a three-year restructuring that began with the selection of Tua over Justin Herbert.
But to hell with – oh, excuse the tongue – whatever Flores says in “disrespect” even to Ross, it is in no way inferior to what Shula said to team owner Joe Robbie.
Shula did not speak to people named Robbie. He called it the anatomical hole. He regularly invited team members to the training base with one caveat – they could not report anything to Robbie.
Shula also set the standard in all sports for the coach to curse the owner of the team. In celebration of their second Super Bowl victory at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, Shula was waiting for his wife, Dorothy, before starting the ceremony.
Robbie said it was time to start. Shula said to give him a minute. Robbie insisted. Shula got angry.
“There are 1000 people waiting for you!” – shouted Robbie. “Let’s go up there!”
“Shout at me one more time and I’ll kick your ass!” Shula shouted back.
“Come on, kick my ass!” – said Robbie.
Shula had an additional decision to make. Did he hit the owner?
“Raise your voice at me again in public and I’ll kick your ass!” he said.
How accurate is this transcript? The journalists were there. Back and forth were printed in newspapers all over the country. The Archbishop of Miami later interceded to try and help the relationship of the two good Catholics.
And now the Dolphins coach has been fired for “disrespect”?
Look, if Ross wanted to fire Flores, it’s his team. Fire him. He is the owner. Flores is not in the Hall of Fame for coaches like Shula, Johnson or Saban. But firing him to improve the team, not because he had a falling out with his quarterback or spoke rudely to the general manager or owner.
It looks like a gentle owner trading softness through a team. Do you want a cool host? Robbie was asked how he tolerates Shula.
“I want to win,” he said.
Isn’t that what you need to fire a coach for?