Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Pain of Loving a Loser

Tonight will begin another painful chapter in my life as a fan of the Miami Dolphins.

In 1975 I was a fourth-grader living in Southeastern Oklahoma.  That meant Dallas Cowboys country.  But, as a young person I was as anti-group as I am today so I was not about to go along with the crowd of Cowboy worshipers - at any cost.

I loved dolphins, the state of Florida (where my aunt from Marathon would send the most beautiful post cards), the ocean and the color aqua.    My parents took me to a park in Texas that summer where I got to see real dolphins for the first time.  These amazing mammals left such a huge impression on me that when August rolled around and football season began I picked the Miami Dolphins as my favorite team.  I did not even know that the Dolphins had won the Super Bowl two years earlier so I could not be accused of being a front-runner. 

I also did not know that this would launch what is now 37 years of suffering.  Massive suffering.

On Christmas day, 1975 I received a beautiful Miami Dolphins winter coat and wool cap.  The first time I wore it to school was on a day it was snowing.  Some jerk Cowboys fan yanked the cap off of my head and threw it on top of a tetherball pole.  I pulled his stinking Cowboys cap off and airmailed it on top of our elementary school.  Guess what our teacher, Mrs. Lambert saw?  Yep.  Just like a good referee, she saw the retaliation, not the original transgression.  I got a beating right after recess to go along with the snow in my hair.

Three years later I did get some measure of satisfaction when Miami beat Satan's team (the Cowboys) in a 1978 regular season game.  Having not learned about avoiding the fleeting joys of revenge, I used stencil art to write down the score of the game - in aqua and orange, of course - and handed out copies to all of the Cowboy fans in my middle school.  The Cowboy fans pointed out that Dallas had won the Super Bowl a year earlier and that I was still waiting to see Miami win one.

In 1983 I was walking home from school in my junior year with the Hugo Daily News.  I opened up to the sports page (there was no ESPN coverage of the draft back then) to see who the Dolphins had selected the day before.  I recall exactly where I was when I uttered the words, "Wow, they got Marino."  I was really excited at the prospect of Miami landing a great quarterback to follow in the footsteps of my childhood hero, Bob Griese (who sent me three different autographs while he was with Miami - a result of me calling him long distance back when unauthorized long distance calls would get you a beating from your mom...)

In 1984 the miracle seemed to have arrived.  Miami got off to an 11-0 start, eventually going 14-2 with Marino passing for 5,084 yards and an incredible 48 touchdowns.  The Dolphins destroyed everyone in the playoffs that year and caused me to lose my mind. 

I was a freshman in college, 92 miles north of my hometown, but still in Cowboys country.  Miami had beaten Dallas on Monday Night Football in December and I made sure when I got back to campus that all the Cowboys fans knew about it.   In January I was was totally insufferable in predicting Miami would win the Super Bowl against the 49ers.  People coming into my dorm room saw my bulletin board decorated as a shrine to Dan Marino, who, I was sure, could not be stopped.

49ers 38, Miami 16.

In about 7-degree weather my car broke down on the way back to my college.  Then, when I finally got to my room at about 2am I discovered that the Cowboys fans had pulled down all of my Marino photos and replaced them with Polaroid photos of a sheep "going number two" on my bed.

That's right.  They went out to the ag barn (my college was largely an agricultural one), stole a sheep, took him to my room, put him on my bed and... well, I guess he got scared because he proceeded to deposit his dinner - or maybe several dinners - on my bed.  I found his deposit, and my Marino photos under the deposit when I returned.  I guess this is where the "Pride cometh before a fall" thing could be found.

I was certain the Dolphins would be back in the Super Bowl following the 1984 season, but 15 years came and went and nothing.

In 2000, as a 34-year old grown man with a wife, a job, kids and everything, I sat in my car weeping like a baby listening to Dan Marino's retirement speech.

Now, 12 years after that, and nearing my 38th season as a Dolphins fan, I have had to endure Miami's collapse into what could only be called, "Laughingstock territory". 

Miami has been beyond horrible over the last 12 years.  Their owners now include Gloria Estefan and the Williams sisters of tennis fame.  Their primary owner, general managers, coaches and players have performed about like Gloria Estefan would perform if she were asked to play quarterback for the Dolphins.

Tonight, Miami is expected to draft a quarterback who has only played a year or so as quarterback, was not even the third or fourth best quarterback in his college conference and who used to be a wide receiver.  He is expected to be picked 8th overall, even though the experts say he should be picked around 40th overall.

It has gotten so bad I would not be surprised if Miami picked me in the second round even though I last played running back 28 1/2 years ago.

Maybe they will pick Serena Williams in round 3, Dan Marino's gardener in round get the idea.

My wife has asked me over the years why  I don't just change teams. 

I keep telling her my suffering will come to an end soon so I can't change. 

I am just not sure at this point if the end of my suffering will be the Dolphins finally winning the Super Bowl or me dying.

Thank you for your time.  As Barney Fife would say, it has been "therapetic".


  1. This is why I regularly come back to this blog--I never know what I'm going to read, but I'm always glad I did.

  2. I used to feel your pain as a Patriots fan. I thought that I was never going to see a Superbowl win but then in 2000 things started to change when we made Bill Belichick our head coach.

  3. Chris,

    As a Red Sox fan since 1978 I also felt your pain until we won it TWICE! Now I don't know what to do with my baseball suffering over... I don't think my football suffering is going to leave anytime soon.

    1. You never know. Miracles do happen.

  4. As a 49ers fan I feel your pain, and I can almost feel the suffering to be over thanks to Harbaugh and whatever we pick up these next couple of days. Just hang in there cause when you're there, or almost there, it's a satisfying feeling.

  5. But what if death might be closer than a Super Bowl win?

    1. well you can try jumping on the bandwagon of whatever team wins next, but I really don't know what selling your soul feels like

  6. It's okay. Being anti-Patriots for more years than I can remember I will now have to root for them openly (even when they come to Nashville to play home team Titans). Their draft pick of Dont'a Hightower comes from my hometown. I grew up with his family and even in opposing high school games watched as my son lined up against him. A young man from a very good family; a young man from small town Tennessee; a young man who will be a positive role model for young people; yes, I'll be rooting for a "yankee" team this year.