Marino A Dolphin Again...

By STEVEN WINE, AP Sports Writer

DAVIE, Fla. - Dan Marino returned to the Miami Dolphins (news) as their head of football operations Monday, a team source told The Associated Press.


The surprising move gives the Dolphins a popular if inexperienced personnel boss and brings back a record-setting quarterback who was the last to lead them to a Super Bowl.

There had been no indication of Marino's interest in the job while owner Wayne Huizenga and team president Eddie Jones interviewed seven candidates in 10 days.

"He went over this morning and met with Mr. Huizenga," Marino's wife, Claire, said from the couple's home.

The Dolphins scheduled an afternoon news conference.

Marino has been working as an NFL TV analyst for CBS and HBO. His hiring by the Dolphins was first reported by


Marino will fill a job created when coach Dave Wannstedt was stripped of control over personnel decisions after the Dolphins went 10-6 to miss the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1988-89.

Among those interviewed were Hall of Fame receiver Paul Warfield, Dolphins senior VP of football operations Rick Spielman, and former Seattle and New Orleans general manager Randy Mueller.

Marino played for the Dolphins from 1983-99, taking them to the 1985 Super Bowl, where they lost to San Francisco. The most prolific passer in NFL history, he holds league records with 61,361 yards passing and 420 touchdown passes.

"It's great for the franchise for him to return -- the most popular player we ever had," former teammate Jimmy Cefalo said. "Dan knows how to fire up a huddle, and I think he'll fire up the franchise. The fat will be cut away."

The hiring will test Marino's relationship with Wannstedt, which has been strained in the past. Marino retired reluctantly two months after Wannstedt became Miami's coach in January 2000.

Marino will try to become the rare superstar player to later have success as an executive or coach. In the NBA, for example, Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas (news - web sites) and Larry Bird have attempted the crossover, with mixed results.


Marino's return to the Dolphins was a stunner in part because the deal came together so quickly.

"I didn't know how to react," Dolphins defensive tackle Larry Chester said. "I was like, 'Dan Marino? He's a player. Wow!' ...

"Having him here is a major plus. Dan Marino is Miami. With him pulling the reins, I see nothing but good things. I just wish he was coming back to play."

The hiring of Marino is the latest surprising twist in the Dolphins' offseason. Huizenga resolved the embattled Wannstedt's status two weeks ago by giving him a two-year contract extension but also a demotion, relieving him of responsibility for player moves.

The Dolphins have won just one playoff game in the four years since Marino retired, in part because of lackluster results in the draft.


Marino's mission will be to help change that. He also faces a decision about the future of his successor at quarterback, Jay Fiedler, who has been unpopular with fans while directing a sputtering offense.

Fiedler is due a $2 million option in April and a projected base salary of $3.7 million for 2004 if he returns.