Marino had second thoughts about new job

Originally Published: February 4, 2004
ESPN.com news services

MIAMI -- Dan Marino joined the Miami Dolphins' front office for several reasons, including the chance to win the Super Bowl ring he never got as the franchise's quarterback.

"I'll give everything I have," he said on the day he was hired.

Three weeks later, he gave his resignation.

Marino quit Tuesday as the Dolphins' senior vice president of football operations, a job created for him by owner Wayne Huizenga. Marino delivered the news in a surprise visit to Huizenga's office, and wouldn't change his mind.

On Sunday, team sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that Marino was having second thoughts about his role, which had yet to be defined. Marino issued a statement through the team denying that he was reconsidering assuming control of the Dolphins' football operations.

Sources told Mortensen then that Marino discussed his future with Huizenga, but it was not an indication that Marino would resign. Huizenga had offered to give Marino some time off after the Super Bowl to think about the change in lifestyle his role will require.

But mid-afternoon on Tuesday, Marino made an unannounced visit to Huizenga's office and quit.

"I am surprised and I'm disappointed," said Huizenga, adding he would consider re-hiring Marino in the future. "He's a good guy. I like Dan a lot and I think he would have been good for the organization, but it isn't to be."

A telephone message left at Marino's home by The Associated Press was not returned. It was believed Marino left South Florida after the meeting and flew to New York to tape a Super Bowl wrapup show for HBO's "Inside the NFL."

"I have decided that it would not be in the best interests of either my family or the Dolphins to assume the role as the team's senior vice president of football operations," Marino said in a statement.

Huizenga said Marino first told him he was considering changing course on Tuesday.

"I heard about it on the television a couple of days ago, but I didn't believe it," Huizenga said.

Marino played for the Dolphins between 1983 and 1999 and took them to the 1985 Super Bowl, which they lost to San Francisco. He holds NFL records with 61,361 yards passing and 420 touchdown passes.

He planned to leave his analyst jobs at CBS Sports and HBO and begin a full-time role with the Dolphins next week. Marino had been part of at least one team personnel meeting and was at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., for one day, but never formally began his duties.

Marino's sudden departure might present a major public relations problem for the franchise.

"I can't worry about perception at this stage of the game," Huizenga said. "All we can do is put our best foot forward and see what happens."

Don Strock, Marino's close friend and former backup, said the timing might have been wrong for Marino.

"He's his own man," Strock said. "I'm sure his family became involved, and they decided what was best for them. He has to do what is right. But I know one day -- I don't know when -- he's going to be back in football."

Huizenga said the Dolphins will begin searching for Marino's replacement immediately, but no hiring timetable has been announced. It hasn't been determined if the replacement would be given the same title Marino received.

The organizational reshuffling came after Huizenga stripped head coach Dave Wannstedt of final say in personnel matters.

After a lengthy search for a general manager, during which seven candidates were interviewed, the team chose to promote Rick Spielman from senior vice president to GM. Spielman, in turn, would report to Marino, who was placed behind only Huizenga and team president Eddie Jones in the Dolphins' executive hierarchy.

Marino's hiring was considered in some circles as a cosmetic move and that his role would be that of a mere figurehead -- a notion both he and Huizenga scoffed at during the Jan. 12 news conference announcing his hiring.

"I knew it would involve a significant lifestyle change," Marino said in the statement. "But after further reflection, it became clear that those adjustments were ones that my family and I are not prepared to make."

Through the team's media relations office, Spielman and Wannstedt declined requests for comment.

None of the candidates interviewed in the process of finding a GM will be considered as Marino's replacement, Huizenga said.

"I wish he hadn't made this decision, but he did and so we have to move on," Huizenga said. "Who knows? Maybe the next person that comes in is going to be 10 times better."

Chris Mortensen covers the NFL for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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