I wonder if the Dolphin fans should quit on them?
Le Batard: Dolphins have become masters of quitting
Posted on Sat, Dec. 15, 2007
BY DAN LE BATARD
You know what this proud franchise has done best in the past few years? Quit. From small names (Chidi Ahanotu) to big ones (Ricky Williams). Jimmy Johnson -- resigned, was talked out of it, then resigned again a year later. Dave Wannstedt -- resigned during a season. Nick Saban -- fled the premises. Dan Marino -- quit after all of three weeks in charge of football operations. President Eddie Jones -- retired. Jason Taylor, all his effort wasted in the past six seasons, has talked out loud about getting out for years. And now, at the very top of the organization, the owner is exploring his exit, too.
Used to be that Marino and Don Shula had to be pushed toward the door. The new century's Miami Dolphins can't get out it fast enough. Implausibly, the franchise of Marino and Shula hasn't won once in more than a calendar year. The happiest Dolphin this season? Chris Chambers, shipped to the other side of this country, about as far away from all this misery as geographically possible.
Never mind a fumigator. Dolphins headquarters needs an exorcist. The place has to be haunted, the way Wayne Huizenga has to try and talk even dictators like Johnson and Saban into remaining inside. Huizenga has been the guy in the horror movie with his back to the monster, patiently telling his friends Jimmy and Danny and Nicky to come back inside because everything is going to be OK. But now he suddenly feels that monster's breath on his neck, and it is time to grab all his valuable things and run.
Save yourself, Wayne! Don't look behind you! Oh, my God! The horrific beast has already swallowed Dave's Wannstache and Nick's Panama hat! Is that the remains of Cam Cameron's freckled arm in the monster's mouth, thumb turned the wrong way? No! Run, Wayne! Run!
Losing hurts. So does football. The combination is a painful, potent poison that conquered even someone as strong as Barry Sanders in Detroit. And the Dolphins are such an unprecedented Miami mess, from top to bottom, that even the billionaire mercenary profitting most off of them is allowing the fan in him to depress the accountant. Rest assured, Huizenga wouldn't be thinking about selling the Patriots.
This is not a good thing for the Dolphins, no matter how many of you would like to see him go. Yet more instability and upheaval is not good for this franchise. You've seen how all the instability at quarterback and coach have worked out recently. The Next Guy isn't always The Better Guy, although the unknown replacement offers the lifeblood of hope that feeds any fan right up until it turns out to be false. But sometimes The Next Guy is worse. Fresh starts can be overrated. The owner you know, in this case, is likely to be better than the one you don't.
You can hate and envy and blame Huizenga, but he is a good and safe and stable owner, no matter how evil the rich guys get portrayed. He cares, and he spends, which is all you can ask. He stays out of the way. He knows what he doesn't know. The meddlesome next guy might not. The meddlesome next guy might be bloated with ego and power and wealth and think he is smarter than he actually is, smarter than the football people, smarter than everybody. And there is no owner in a salary-capped sport who can be that. You can be richer than everyone else the way George Steinbrenner is in baseball. But you can't be that in football, where the finances are fixed.
Bob Kraft wasn't better than everyone else until his team accidentally stumbled upon Tom Brady in the sixth round. But Huizenga has been betrayed by the scoreboard. Six years without a playoff appearance in a league that legislates parity is an eternity. And he's the common thread through all the upheaval, one of the only ones, so a lot of the blame is going to fall on his head because he's one of the only consistent places where fans can put the anger. But you can't help but wonder how everything around here might have been different if it had just been the Dolphins who had fallen over Brady in that sixth round. Miami's quarterback problems have been a thousand times more crippling than its leadership problems.
Huizenga, as cutthroat as he can be about business, cares about this team deeply. It is one of the few things that he still views through a child's eyes as he turns 70 this month. Unlike all his other businesses, he grew up a fan of this one in a South Florida where football was the only sport we had. He might have made South Florida major-league, but baseball was always just a business to him. He once referred to a fly ball as a transaction. The Dolphins were always something else, something more.
That he's thinking about selling tells you that he feels a lot like his franchise today.