The countdown has begun. Well, for many the countdown began when Super Bowl 48 ended. For others, the countdown started when their team’s season ended. For those who haven’t caught on to what I am talking about…the 2015 NFL football season. That is, as of this writing, is a mere 48 days away.
This season like so many, has some very high expectations and the Miami Dolphins are no exception. Phins fans have been waiting and watching as the Miami Dolphins management and coaching staff have been making roster moves, waiting for the injured to return, signing free agents, and making draft choices in an effort to pursue that elusive - not just the playoffs - ultimate victory of the Super Bowl.
Dolphins fans, including myself, have been asking the question since 1974. When will the Dolphins win a Super Bowl? Sure we’ve been there twice since 1974. In 1983 when the players strike took place and shortened the 1982 season, and when Dan Marino led the Dolphins in a battle against Joe Montana and the 49ers in 1985. But alas both victories went to their opponents.
So, will this be the Dolphins' year? 2014 sure looked promising. As per the norm, the national experts started out by giving the Dolphins no respect, as it seemed that everyone had unanimously chosen their week one opponents as the clear victors. It was to the joy of Dolphins fans everywhere and to the utmost shock of these so called “experts” that the Dolphins impressively and decidedly picked apart Tom Brady and his New England Patriots.
As for me, it was a sight to behold. With that first win over such a difficult opponent, expectations ran very high. But within a few short games the Dolphins unraveled like a loose ball of yarn and the hope began to dwindle.
Dolphins fans (myself included) have been waiting (patiently) for the team to return to not just the Super Bowl but at the very least the playoffs…which by the way hasn’t happened since 2008, this after an embarrassing 1-15 2007. But how much longer will they wait?
How much longer will they continue to buy into (literally) this team? Between ticket prices, parking, and food it can cost a pretty penny to see our Phins play. The only thing I can think of to rival game pricing would be a one day trip to Walt Disney World.
Now at this point I know it may sound like I am complaining. I am… and I’m not. I myself have been a Dolphins fan for many years going back to 1973. Farther if we count that I’ve known of the Dolphins since their inception in 1966 when Joe Robbie and Danny Thomas brought the team to existence.
But I didn’t start truly paying attention until 1973 when I sat with my father and uncles in Hawaii as we gathered around the TV and watched Super Bowl VII where Bob Griese, Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris, Jim Kiick, and the undefeated 1972 team - including our entertainment for the day thanks to kicker Garo Yepremian - marched over the Washington Redskins.
So to answer my question…how much longer will the fans wait? Apparently there seems to be no time limit. South Floridians love their sports. But they also like to win. Right now we are in the midst of baseball season, but the Marlins aren’t doing too well so the stadium is struggling to sell seats. The Heat weren’t really on fire this past season…it’s debatable as to why and we aren’t going to touch that topic right now. The Panthers…I’ll leave that alone.
But the Dolphins, they are something special. They have a storied history like no other team in Florida and the fans are going to put up with them for as long as it takes. Admittedly I have jumped off the bandwagon in frustration. I can remember the 1994 playoffs when it came down to the final seconds of the second round and it was up to Pete Stoyanovich to kick the game winning field goal…and he missed.
I packed up everything I owned, t-shirts, shorts, sunglasses, Dolphins TV remote and Dolphins sneakers. I muttered a few words only a sailor would understand and put the box in the garage…for maybe two weeks until I just had to pull out at least one t-shirt. OK, my sunglasses too. Alright I pulled out the sneakers too. Get off my back, the remote came out as well. Oh for heaven’s sake, I broke out the entire box. Frustrated as I was I couldn’t stay mad at them for long.
I must confess the years between the last Super Bowl win and our current quests have not been all bad. There was one very bright shining light. Dan Marino. Dan brought some excitement to the field. Even in the midst of a losing game Dan made things happen. For the 17 years that he played people came to see him do it.
Sure our expectation was always to win and to get to the playoffs, but even when it looked like the game or the season was hopeless, they still came to see Dan. I once heard an announcer make the statement after Marino let loose one of his famous throws. Most of us didn’t even see it happen it was so quick. I think it even caught the announcers off guard.
One second they’re calling the snap and the next millisecond the ball is in the endzone for a touchdown. The announcer then made the statement, “Where does a receiver go to learn how to catch a ball from Dan Marino?”
It’s all ancient history now. Looking back only helps us to remember what the glory days were like. Now we have a brand new team with young talent and a young quarterback who – numbers wise at least – has already begun to rival Marino’s legacy like no other Dolphins QB before him, not even Chad Pennington during his one year of success in aqua and orange in 2008.
There is hope for the Dolphins this upcoming year. Even Harvard University has made a study that says the Dolphins have an excellent chance to win it all this year. Not that it makes a difference in the long run since there’s not a ton of football merit in the study, but that’s beside the point. For too many years, Dolphins fans have been stuck saying, “Oh well, maybe next year.” But now there’s hope that we could be saying “Wow! What a year!” instead. The only question is…which statement will we be making in 2015?
This column was written by Peter Thorpe. Follow him on Twitter: @PeterThorpePM
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