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Miami Dolphins can rebuild image by winning, team CEO Dee says


The Dolphins built an iconic reputation on the 1972 Perfect Season and names like Shula, Csonka and Marino.

In recent years they’ve become more often associated with failure on the field and mocked for accumulating celebrity minority owners in lieu of playoff victories.

Asked this week about the franchise’s tarnished image, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said that success on the field would restore the luster.

“Somebody said to me once, ‘Winning makes everything you do much bolder and brighter, and losing pretty much means everything you do is wrong,’” Dee said. “I think there are a lot of great things this franchise has done in the community over a long period of time. We’ve tried to ratchet that up significantly over the last three years since I arrived and Steve [Ross] bought the team.”

The Dolphins are aggressive in an array of charitable initiatives. The annual Dolphins Cycling Challenge raised more than $1 million for cancer research last fall. The team’s charitable foundation partnered with Rebuilding Together Broward to renovate a home in Hollywood for a Navy veteran and her family. Several Dolphins players worked on the project, which was completed this week.

“I’m confident that when the worm turns and we start having some success on the field that some of those things will be recognized, and that we’ll be able to know we were doing them when times weren’t so good as well,” Dee said. “I’m confident that what we’re doing in the community is the right thing, and we’re touching a lot of people in all three counties and Southwest Florida, and we’re going to continue to do that.”

Dee noted that the diversity of South Florida creates a marketing challenge in striving to appeal to a broad fan base. Hardcore football fans have ridiculed emphasis extraneous stadium entertainment such as the celebrity orange carpet and Club LIV while the main attraction on the field has been second rate.

Staging a tribute to the Florida Gators turned into a public relations debacle as University of Miami fans expressed outrage about a rival team being honored on the Hurricanes’ home field.

“We’ve got to continue to push the envelope of marketing to get new fans while not upsetting the traditional fan who is wearing the Nick Buoniconti jersey he got in 1975 who still comes to every game,” Dee said.

“They may not like the orange carpet and some of the entertainment they see. For them it’s all about football. But we know there is a core base of new fans that come for all the other things in addition to football. How we walk that fine line is what we do on a daily basis. Some days we’re better at it than other times.”

Photo: Tyrone Culver, left, and Nate Garner were among several Dolphins players who helped with renovation on the Hollywood home of Navy veteran Leslye Lea and her family. (Courtesy Miami Dolphins)

Categories: Miami Dolphins (186)

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About the author
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.
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