This week’s guest, Mike Tannenbaum, Executive Vice President of Football Operations of the Miami Dolphins, epitomizes what After The Buzzer attempts to do. Mike is smart, curious and innovative. He is not afraid to be aggressive, whether it’s trading for an impact player, signing a difference maker or negotiating smart contracts.
Across 20 years of NFL experience with the New Orleans Saints, the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets, Mike has worked alongside some coaching giants of the current NFL era. Since joining the Miami Dolphins in 2014 and becoming vice president of football operations in 2015, Mike has hired a highly regarded general manager and an equally highly regarded head coach. In 2016, the Dolphins went 10 and 6 and made the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
Mike is a graduate of Tulane Law School and a member of the board of directors of the Sports Lawyers Association.
Some highlights of Bob Wallace's conversation with Mike:
- On what it was like working with Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells: “Just to be around him every day for four years is something that I’ll cherish forever. He certainly had standards, and it wasn’t always easy. But it was always meaningful. One minute he could be yelling at you deservedly, and the next minute he could be praising you. I never could have become a GM without just being around him every day and learning those lessons about evaluating players, building a roster, who to pay, how much to pay. How to manage people, how to give people feedback. How to tell people things they don’t want to hear.”
- On the surprising opportunities for consensus decision-making in an NFL front office: “If there are disagreements, either let’s watch more film or let’s determine what the goal is. Because we have objectives and we know what we want this organization to look like and the types of players we need. And when we do that, invariably that decision will bubble to the top and we can get to consensus pretty quick.”
- On contract negotiations in the era of the salary cap, and why flexibility is paramount: “In this day and age your plan has to be firmly etched in pencil because things are going to happen. You think things are going to go one way and then, for whatever reason, they change. You have to stand for something and have a good sense of where you want to go. But you also have to be realistic because life gets in the way and things change and players get more in some situations and less in others. You just have to be open minded.”