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  Interview with Miami Dolphins President/COO Bryan Wiedmeier
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On Thursday, Phins.com participated an interview with Miami Dolphins Team President and Chief Operating Officer Bryan Wiedmeier. Together with other Dolphin fan web sites, we had exclusive access to Wiedmeier for almost an hour. Here is an excerpt of that interview:


Q: Is there a plan to elevate the energy level (in Dolphin Stadium) and keep up the energy level, even when the season isn’t perfect?


BW: A lot of you were with us when we were at the Orange Bowl, and a lot remember some of the big games there. We’ve had it at times at Dolphin Stadium and usually that goes hand in hand with how the team performs. I think that we do is constantly look to see what are the things that you (the fans) want. What are the game production techniques that other stadiums do a nice job with at their games. Pittsburgh comes to mind, Kansas City, and others. Ultimately it comes down to the people in the stands and their reaction to what we do and we’re going to constantly find ways to be responsive to you.


Q: Do you think the players will be affected (by jet lag when the Dolphins travel to London for their game against the Giants), and what measures will the team take to avoid the jet lag?


BW: We’ve taken a couple of trips already over to the U.K., and we feel we’ve got a pretty good handle on what the schedule is going to be like and what its effect is going to be on the players. We’ve talked to others through their NFL Europa experiences, coaches who have gone over. Ultimately we think it is going to be fine for our players…the travel time is not that bad. The players will be able to sleep on the plane. We’ll have a workout on Friday, (and) have another practice Saturday when we get into Wembley Stadium.


Q: Can you tell us about the impact that the changes between the previous coaching staff and this one (current staff) have had on the organization’s professional atmosphere?


BW: Having been here a number of years and having worked with some outstanding coaches, Coach (Don) Shula for so many years and, subsequent to that, Jimmy (Johnson), Dave (Wannstedt), and others, Cam (Cameron, head coach) brings a calm sense of professionalism. With the veteran players on our team, I think they appreciate that. There’s a sense of urgency and work ethic, don’t misunderstand there. Professionalism is probably the key word when it comes to the environment around the building (now). Randy (Mueller, General Manager), has a lot to do with that as well. The collective vision when Wayne (Huizenga, team owner) went to set up a new leadership structure for the organization this offseason, we had a clear picture in mind of what we wanted to try and accomplish. Cam was the right leader at the right time to do that. He gets a lot of help, too. Dom Capers…Keith Armstrong…we’ve got some very good coaches.


Q: How would the Dolphins justify the significant increase in season ticket prices, while at the same time taking a quality home game (Giants) and moving it to the U.K.?


BW: As far as the ticket price increases, that’s a product of the economic system that we’re in. The organization doesn’t enjoy raising ticket prices. What we’ve tried to do over the years is to try and have a modest increase over a number of years, as opposed to doing a large increase on a periodic basis. We’re still in the bottom quartile of the NFL in terms of (average ticket price compared to) value to the fans of South Florida and we’ve got one of the best stadiums in the league.


As far as the London game and international games in the future, the model that the league would love to do in the future is to add a game to the schedule so that teams wouldn’t have a game taken away from them. If you compare (the NFL) to soccer and other sports and corporate America in general, everything is going global. We’ve got to, as a sport, be able to adapt to that and have a program that’s responsive. NFL Europa and the preseason games…are not going to be the solution going forward to help grow the sport of American football. Losing a home game hurts our fans and hurts the club (lost revenues from a home game) but in terms of the broader vision…we’ve got to have some type of global presence.


Q: Would you be in favor of implementing a more incentive-based contract system for rookies?


BW: I do agree with that. I’ve been on the labor advisory group (to the NFL) since it started a number of years ago and that was one of the big topics coming into the last number of labor agreements. People point to the NBA system, and I’m not sure that’s the right system per se. No one has a problem paying for players that are producing for you. In a salary cap system, where you’ve got a limited amount of dollars, I think most owners would agree, and most players would agree, that the wealth should go to those that are making it happen for the team, those that are performing. Unfortunately the way our draft system is set up, you have the ones who are making the guaranteed money…the first round picks through the second round. Beyond that, most of the players on a second day pick are on a system of performance-based pay. A player like Yeremiah Bell or Rex Hadnot would be players that, out of a common pool of money, receive an additional bonus at the end of the year by virtue of having been on the field and played. We like that system (but) the union has been opposed to having a lot of money tied to performance-based pay or that type of compensation because of the injury factor.


Q: Which team in our division do the Dolphins love to play the most, the least, and how often does it change?


BW: We like to play anybody in our division because of how much the division games count. Most of you have followed the team for many years, so you can remember how our Buffalo rivalry was the red letter day of the year. There are times back in the early 80s when the Jets were the red letter game. Then it became New England. The one thing I do know, if you’re part of the organization, if you’re a fan, if you love the Dolphins, anybody in the division gets your blood going.


Q: Randy Mueller was in charge of the draft this year. Mueller and (Nick) Saban was in charge of it last year. Why is there seemingly such a big difference in the overall talent between the two years?


BW: Randy’s role was a little different last year with coach Saban. Under the system that coach Saban ran, he (Saban) was the decision maker and kind of set the tone, set the pace, for what he wanted to do in the personnel arena. Whether we hit on some of those guys and (they) eventually become good players, whether it was his first year of the draft when Randy wasn’t here or it’s this year, that remains to be seen. This year, Randy had the primary accountability to run the draft and set the tone and the approach and how we would go about it with a lot of input from Cam. The two of them worked as if they were partners on the thing. Whether it’s going to be more successful this year versus last, only time is going to tell. We’re optimistic about what they were able to accomplish this year in terms of the number of players that have the prospect of sticking with our team.


Q: How much of getting players in on time had to due with the “Huizenga mandate” (holdouts will sit for the season)?


BW: We were sweating that deadline. Those of you who don’t know Wayne, he doesn’t say it unless he means it. I think Wayne shared everyone’s frustration with rookies missing time. He made it clear what his expectations were and that’s all you can ask in terms of the agent community and the players. That being said, from early on, we did some pre-draft interviews. You get a chance to know the players a little bit and you get know the agents as well. It was something we could hit on and just make sure that people knew what we were looking for as a program. People wanted to get (the Cam Cameron era) off on the right foot to make sure that the new players we were bringing into the program had every opportunity to succeed. Wayne’s mandate probably helped in terms of expectations setting and clarity in that regard. Ultimately it comes down to being able to have parties motivated towards a common goal.


Q: On draft day there were a lot of upset fans when (the Dolphins) didn’t draft Brady Quinn. In your position, did you notice any sense of dissatisfaction amongst the team? Have you noticed a change (in opinion) with the draft being three months behind us with the fans?


BW: Time lends perspective. It’s kind of a “chicken or the egg” scenario when you go to a draft. Maybe organizationally we were too secretive on what we really felt. In a competitive arena, information is king. Most of you have followed the league long enough to know there’s a lot of false rumors that are spread and misinformation that goes around before the draft. Our guys wanted to let their true feelings on the scenario that we developed and also what they felt about John Beck, if they had to make a choice, wanted to keep that where, quite literally only a handful of people that knew. When we got into the second round when Beck was still on the board, there were a couple of teams that we knew were looking at quarterbacks. Had they known what our feelings were about that player…it would have put our pick in jeopardy. As it worked out, the way the assessment of the players went, they felt that if they could get both (Ted) Ginn and Beck, it would help our team both in the short term and the long term better than the addition of what combination of players would be in the alternative. To accomplish that, we were probably too quiet about it. By doing that, a lot of the people that would help shape information and opinion about the efficacy of our move were totally in the dark.


Q: Hindsight is always 20/20, but now that you’ve had time to reflect on the results on the field and the feedback from your staff, do you regret the decision to hire Nick Saban?


BW: I will say this: you make the best decision at the point in time you have to make the decision. At that point in time, it was the right decision for the organization to make. Now, that being said, did we get the results that we expected? No. It’s an unfinished book, as it were. But we’ve turned the page and moved on and we’re happy with what we’ve got now.


Q: What are the organization’s top three business issues right now?


BW: Number one, the good thing about the Miami Dolphins and those of you that care about the team and followed the team over a number of years, one of the things that sets the organization is that football comes first. We’re in a salary cap, revenue sharing economy and we’ve go to maintain the competitive viability of the team. The things that we’ve had to do, with the stadium renovation…Wayne, if he was strictly looking at it from a business perspective, probably could have gotten another 10 years out of that building without having to do improvement. But what he did to keep us competitive off the field was to invest a lot of capital on his own. We have to ensure the success of our off-field finances. (Second), we need to make sure we keep a (stadium) that can keep us healthy financially. Third, looking for new ways to grow from a business standpoint.




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