[MIDMORNING UPDATE: The Dolphins are practicing but linebacker Channing Crowder and cornerback Will Allen are not working today. Both are off to the side doing agility drills. Crowder is dealing with the knee problem that forced him to miss last week's game. He has a wrap over both knees. Allen's injury will be announced by the team later today. He looks like he might still be smarting from a tremendous pancake block delivered by former Dolphin Damion McIntosh on both Allen and safety Renaldo Hill. Allen was complaining about his hip after that hit. The injury today was reported as a groin injury.]
Depending on what happens with Sunday's game between the Dolphins and Jets, and assuming there is no financial apocalypse between today and that time, your beloved football franchise will be changing hands as early as next week.
The sale of the Dolphins and Dolphin Stadium from H. Wayne Huizenga to Stephen Ross is expected to be completed as early as late next week if the Dolphins lose. If the Dolphins win, the sale will come within a week to 10 days following Miami's elimination from the playoffs.
Under any scenario, the owner that has presided over the Dolphins since 1994 is expected to end his tenure in 2009.
And that leads me to this: Thank you, Mr. Huizenga for, what is ultimately, a job well done.
If you are long-time reader of this blog, you know that was not the sentiment on here last season. I railed angrily at all of Mr. Huizenga's missteps in leading this franchise.
I complained that Mr. Huizenga had allowed Jimmy Johnson to basically name his successor, something Don Shula was not allowed to do, even after Johnson failed at his attempt to return the Dolphins to the Super Bowl.
I complained he gave Dave Wannstedt an extension even as he demoted the coach in January 2004.
I complained he conducted a national search for a general manager at that time, and interviewing half-a-dozen excellent candidates, hired Rick Spielman from inside the organization. We all know how that turned out.
I complained about the Cam Cameron hiring. I complained Huizenga had not gone out and hired a proven NFL man to remake this organization and had long ago -- after the Dan Marino as president fiasco -- abandoned the idea of hiring a football man that would report to him only, a man who would report on how the coach and GM were doing.
Well, Mr. Huizenga has waged a terrific and amazing fourth-quarter rally before the end of his ownership tenure. He saw the train wreck that was 2007 and although he could do nothing to prevent it, he was trying to lure one Bill Parcells to his team even before the crash was complete.
So Mr. Huizenga deserves your appreciation for hiring Parcells.
Mr. Huizenga deserves your appreciation for sparing no expense to keep his team competitive.
Mr. Huizenga deserves your appreciation for spending his own money -- approximately $250 million, give or take a few million -- to upgrade Dolphin Stadium.
Mr. Huizenga deserves your appreciation for having the respect of his fellow owners even as his team could not always say the same of its opponents.
And there is one more thing Mr. Huizenga deserves: He deserves for the Dolphins to continue their improbable surge from NFL cellar to the league's heights. Wouldn't it be cool if Miami can win the Super Bowl before Mr. H goes?
What a script!
Anyway, the 15 years of Mr. Huizenga's ownership has been marked with highs and some terrible lows. But ultimately when he closes the sale -- again, assuming no financial collapse or surprises -- and hands over the keys, he should be proud of the product he's turning over.
Because, ultimately, the team Ross is about purchase is back where it belongs: Among the elite teams of the NFL.
[BLOG NOTE: I will be filing updates from camp today. Check back later for news.]