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Dolphins extend contract of GM Ireland

MIAMI -- During the past month, when the job security of coach Tony Sparano often seemed in dire jeopardy, General Manager Jeff Ireland still was relatively safe.

His budding relationship with owner Stephen Ross was very visible.

Now the team has provided the evidence to back it up.

Miami extended Ireland's contract as part of a multiyear deal, the Dolphins announced in a news release. Ireland only had one year remaining on a four-year contract signed in 2008.

The extension makes good sense, especially in the wake of Ross' decision to also give Sparano a two-year extension. Providing the same stability for Ireland gives the organization a level of continuity.

"The decision to extend Jeff's contract as our General Manager was an easy one," Ross said in a statement. "The young talent that Jeff has assembled during his three years with the Dolphins has made a profound impact on our franchise's recovery from the 1-15 season of 2007."

Ireland is scheduled to meet with the media Tuesday in Mobile, Ala., where several members of the team will convene for the week leading up to the Senior Bowl.

"I appreciate the support of the entire Dolphin organization, from Steve Ross all the way down, and I'm going to continue to work as hard as I can with Steve, Tony Sparano, and the rest of the team to bring the Dolphins back to their long-time position as one of the elite teams in the NFL," Ireland said in a statement.


'Man of Year' trio set

NEW YORK -- Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, Chicago defensive lineman Israel Idonije, and Minnesota safety Madieu Williams are the nominees for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.

It is the only league honor that recognizes a player's community service along with his play.

The winning player will have $20,000 donated to a charity in his name. The award will be announced at the Super Bowl.

The most recent winners were Brian Waters, Kurt Warner and Jason Taylor.

The 32 teams each nominated a player. A panel, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, pared the field to three. Fred Jackson was the nominee from the Buffalo Bills.

The award is named for the longtime Chicago running back who won a Super Bowl with the Bears in the 1985 season. Payton died in 1999.

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