MARINO OUT

Dan Marino won't be joining the Dolphins after all. The team made it official on Tuesday when it released a statement from the future Hall of Fame, who decided against taking the position because of the time demands.

"Since my retirement as a player, I approached Wayne on numerous occasions about a meaningful position in football operations with the Dolphins," Marino said in the statement. "Until recently, such an opportunity didn't exist. When it became clear that Wayne was looking to bring in a high-level football executive, I approached him about the position. I knew it would involve a significant lifestyle change, but after further reflection, it became clear that those adjustments were ones that my family and I are not prepared to make at this time.

"As a result, I have decided that it would not be in the best interests of either my family or the Dolphins to assume the role as the team's senior vice president of football operations.

"I am grateful to Wayne for giving me this opportunity, and the last thing I would ever want to do would be to disappoint him, the Miami Dolphins organization, or its fans. I was looking forward to working with Dave (Wannstedt) and Rick (Spielman), and I'm excited about the direction the team is headed. I will be happy to help the team out in any way if asked, and I always will be the Dolphins' No. 1 fan."

Marino was hired on Jan. 12 as senior vice president of football operations on the same day Spielman was promoted to general manager.

"I am disappointed in Dan's decision, especially since I think he would have made an outstanding football executive," owner Wayne Huizenga said in a statement. "But I understand his reasons, and I support his decision to reorder the priorities in his life."

Huizenga also said he still wants to hire someone to serve as a liaison between Wannstedt and Spielman and himself.

"I am confident that we will be able to find a senior executive who has an extensive football background in the NFL to join the Dolphins management team over the next few months. While that individual will oversee the entire football operation, the exact title and position will depend on the background of the person we hire.

"Our franchise will continue to move forward, and Dan's decision will not adversely affect our ability to prepare for the 2004 season. I still firmly believe in the structure that we have created, and in the people we have in place to carry out their responsibilities. I believe that splitting the coach and general manager functions is better for the long-term direction of the franchise. Dave has all the duties customarily assigned to a head coach in the National Football League, while Rick, as our general manager, has the responsibilities associated with that position."


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