Parcells hires Ireland to be Dolphins general manager

Updated: January 3, 2008, 9:30 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

DAVIE, Fla. -- Jeff Ireland has rejoined Bill Parcells to help revive the Miami Dolphins.

Ireland, who spent the past seven years in player personnel with the Dallas Cowboys, was hired Wednesday as Dolphins general manager. He replaces Randy Mueller, fired Monday after three seasons with Miami.

Parcells, the Cowboys' head coach in 2003-06, joined the Dolphins two weeks ago as executive vice president of football operations.

"Jeff Ireland certainly was an important part of this organization," said Parcells' successor in Dallas, Wade Phillips. "Miami has done a smart thing by hiring him. And Bill was around him, so he knew what he does."

Ireland may have input in deciding the fate of Cam Cameron, whose job is in jeopardy after going 1-15 in his first season as an NFL head coach. Cameron met Tuesday with Parcells, but remained uncertain whether he would be retained.

Ireland, 37, spent the past three years as Cowboys vice president of college and pro scouting, and he helped build the team that won the NFC East this season with a 13-3 record. Before that, he was an NFL scout for 11 years.

"I am excited about joining the Dolphins," Ireland said in a statement. "I know the great tradition of the team, and in my mind they are one of the flagship franchises in the NFL. They have a great owner in Wayne Huizenga, who I know is committed to making the Dolphins into winners once again. I am looking forward to working with him and everyone else in Miami to achieve that goal."

Huizenga flew by helicopter to the team's training complex to meet with Ireland and left two hours later, shortly before the hiring was announced.

Bad personnel decisions over the past decade are a major reason for the decline of the Dolphins, once a perennial playoff team. They're sitting out the postseason for the sixth year in a row, and only an overtime win against Baltimore last month prevented them from becoming the NFL's first 0-16 team.

While Ireland is a Texas native who played at Baylor, he decided to leave Dallas to become a general manager.

"The promotion, I think, was the key thing. I don't think he was going to be moved up to general manager here," Phillips said to laughter.

Team owner Jerry Jones holds that title with the Cowboys.

Jones said he could have insisted that Ireland remain with Dallas until after the draft in April. But Jones said he was grateful to Huizenga for allowing Jason Garrett to go from the Dolphins' coaching staff to the Cowboys a year ago without compensation.

"I didn't want Jeff to lose this opportunity," Jones said. "Plus, Wayne had the same attitude regarding Jason Garrett; he helped us get Jason Garrett in here while he was still under contract. Of course, I've got a good relationship with Bill. So this one fits real well. ...

"This is a great opportunity for Jeff. It is, frankly, a good opportunity for us. I want people to see that if they come here and if they've got a good opportunity they can advance."

Ireland began in the NFL as a scout for the National Scouting Combine before joining the Kansas City Chiefs' personnel department in 1997. He was hired by the Cowboys as a national scout in 2001 and was elevated to the vice president's role three years ago.

Evaluating football talent is certainly part of his bloodlines. Ireland is the stepson of former Dallas and Kansas City standout linebacker E.J. Holub. He is the grandson of longtime NFL scout Jim Parmer, a personnel executive who helped to fashion the Chicago Bears' 1985 championship team.

Of the 53 players on the Cowboys' roster, 38 were acquired after Ireland was promoted to vice president of college and pro scouting. That includes 12 of the 22 starters.

Ireland once said he looks for big, fast, strong, smart players who have good character and can handle "the pressures of being a professional athlete." The Dolphins said he would hold an introductory news conference later this week.

Information from ESPN.com senior writer Len Pasquarelli and The Associated Press is included in this report

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