South Florida sports fans (and the fans of their teams world-wide) get a bad rap. For the most part it’s warranted. It’s just hard to get yourself to go watch a fledgling team when you can spend the day on a beach drinking everything in sit surrounded by beautiful people. Perhaps this is why I’ve always been a Dolphins fan, I don’t take sports too seriously and I love the idea that if my team sucks, I can just go to the beach. Take notes kids, if you’re choosing a cold weather franchise to be a fan of you’ve ruined your fall/winter travel schedule as an adult.
My Miami Dolphins fandom began in my bedroom. It is one of my earliest memories. I had a large closet in my childhood bedroom and my parents would often use part of it for storage. My father (famous for Pop’s Picks on www.hotsaucesports.ca), who is not a Dolphins fan had purchased a 1972 Bob Griese Dolphins jersey and it hung in my closet. My dad felt as though a perfect season was so historically significant he would buy merchandise to commemorate it. There was something in the teal, orange and white that attracted the eye of a young and innocent Peeze. From that moment on, it was Phins Up!
I grew up during the era where Dan Marino had taken the mantle from Joe Montana and was indisputably the greatest arm talent anyone had ever seen in the game. I know he didn’t win a Super Bowl but, in my youth the Dolphins were a team that was nationally relevant year after year. On January 15th 2020 the Dolphins suffered a 62-7 playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars with Marino at the helm. It was sad to see a once great athlete barely able to move because the metal in the giant brace holding Marino’s leg together rivaled some machinery that would have been used in the construction of RoboCop. Seeing him throw sideline comebacks that was intercepted several yards short or a 12 yard dig route that was intercepted after floating in the air for days seemed like an ill-fitting end to one of the great talents in the NFL.
“Luckily”, I thought to myself “I won’t live to see another embarrassment like that from my team in my life”. This was obviously without the foresight that would have been required to see Cleo Lemon taking a sack against Bill Belichick’s ONE man pass rush (a defensive strategy not seen before or since) or that in a few short months I would witness the last Dolphins post season win in two decades. Ah yes December 30th 2000, a few days after the Razor Scooter was the hottest Christmas gift, the Dolphins would win their first and only playoff game during this millennium. I am however, getting ahead of myself…
Let’s go back to when hope died. You see, sports fans of any other team are truly in love with the transaction in sports. Player X is really gonna solve the offensive line issue, man my team really need a three point shooter and now we have one, etc. Miami Dolphins fans got burned with a team unable to surround Dan Marino with serious talent at the skill positions, deciding to take a chance on a broken Dante Culpepper instead of a mending Drew Brees, passing on Matt Ryan, not hiring head coach Mike Tomlin because members of the front office believing he is too “urban” (I wish I was making that one up), etc. Dolphins fans tend to look at these transactions and think some version of “well this is where Mike Wallace’s career comes to die”.
Even when the Dolphins drafted Ryan Tannehill, another talented player that the team could do nothing with there wasn’t the excitement that usually comes with drafting a potential franchise quarterback. Perhaps it was because he was a converted wide receiver or perhaps it was because he was the consensus 3rd best quarterback of that draft (fourth if you consider that Russell Wilson would go two rounds later), but Tannehill never really got the fanbase excited. It seemed like a team destined to be a middle of the pack team for almost a decade, and it was. However, this does truly feel different.
The Dolphins acquired all of the assets necessary to trade up for there man if Tua Tagovailoa didn’t fall in the draft. His injury and Joe Burrow’s legendary college season knocked him down from the consensus number 1 pick to the fifth pick where he was immediately embraced by a once broken fanbase. My wife once remarked that when the Dolphins score, I seem relieved rather than happy. However, this was not the case on Sunday. Anytime the Dolphins did anything I was overcome with joy. That overwhelming feeling of hope with a little bit of fear (that this may STILL not be THE ONE), is what being a fan is all about. I truly do hope that Tua brings the once great Miami franchise back from irrelevance and in the end hope is all a fan can ask for. So this may be premature but for the first time in years I can’t get this song out of my head:
Miami has the Dolphins
The Greatest Football Team
We take the ball from goal to goal
Like no one’s ever seen
We’re in the air, we’re on the ground
We’re always in control
And when you say Miami
You’re talking Super Bowl
‘Cause we’re the…
Miami Dolphins Number One.
Yes we’re the…
Miami Dolphins Number One