MIAMI (AP) — The first airborne banner calling for Jeff Ireland to be fired flew over the Miami Dolphins' stadium in 2011. Other similar signs followed, most recently in November, and on Tuesday those wanting him out finally got their wish.
Ireland's six-year stint as general manager ended with a brief announcement that he and owner Stephen Ross mutually agreed to part ways. The Dolphins said they would conduct an immediate search for a replacement to lead football operations.
A late-season flop kept Miami out of the playoffs for a fifth consecutive year, and Ireland has long been considered the main culprit for the franchise's failures. More than two dozen frustrated fans gathered outside the Dolphins' complex one spring day in 2012 to protest the way the team was being run, with some holding signs that read "FIRELAND."
He wasn't fired, but in the wake of last month's meltdown, Ross considered hiring a football czar over Ireland and coach Joe Philbin. Ireland was opposed to such an arrangement.
"Steve and I came to an agreement that the best thing moving forward for all parties would be to part ways," Ireland said in a statement. "I'd like to thank Steve for all his support and kindness. I've had the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing people during this time, and I'd like to thank them all from the bottom of my heart."
Ross said the decision regarding Ireland came after they had a series of discussions.
"We both felt that it was in our mutual best interest to part ways," Ross said in a statement. "Jeff was a loyal and dedicated member of the Dolphins and we wish him and his family nothing but the best."
Still to be determined is Ireland's role in a locker-room bullying scandal that drew national scrutiny. The NFL has yet to release a report on its investigation into the case.
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