UNEASY TIMES

Pretty much everyone said all the right things after Dan Marino rejoined the Dolphins organization with the title of senior vice president of football operations. But you just know there are some people who were less than thrilled about that development.

Two guys quickly come to mind, and they are Dave Wannstedt and Jay Fiedler.

Everyone remembers who was Wannstedt who basically hastened Marino's retirement back in the spring of 2000.

Yes, both Marino and Wannstedt said Monday that the coach told Marino he was more than welcome to come back to the team for an 18th season.

But it also was suggested back then that Marino would have to fight for the starting job and he also would have to deal with changes in the offense brought on by the arrival of new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.

In other words, it was almost like telling Marino, yes, you can come back if you want but things will be very different around here and you probably don't want to deal with it.

Both Wannstedt and Marino say they have no problem with each other, but just know that Marino is the ultimate competitor, and he wouldn't have retired in 2000 if it had been entirely up to him.

And now Marino is Wannstedt's boss. Makes for a slightly uncomfortable situation, don't you think?

What do you think happens if the Dolphins get off to a slow start in 2004? What if Wannstedt makes a coaching decision Marino doesn't agree with? Think Marino would think twice about telling Wayne Huizenga it's time for Wannstedt to go.

Talk about short leashes. It was clear even when Wannstedt got a contract extension after the 2003 season that his margin for error had all but disappeared, but on top of that he has less power than he's ever had and he's also got Marino looking over his shoulder.

Wannstedt isn't a very happy camper these days, and it's easy to see why.

As for Fiedler, he's the guy who replaced Marino. That's bad enough.

He's also Wannstedt's hand-picked choice and the guy the coach has stood behind for four years. Four years that became less and less satisfying.

Oh, and in case you've forgotten, Marino said after his retirement that Damon Huard and not Fiedler should take over at quarterback.

There seemed little chance of Fiedler coming back to the Dolphins in 2004 before Marino came back to the fold. Now, forget about it.

You can bet Marino, no matter how big his input is at the onset of his tenure, will make his opinion known when it comes to the quarterback position.

It's like we said, regardless of how you felt about Marino's return to the Dolphins, no two guys gritted their teeth more than Fiedler and Wannstedt.


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