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An Open Letter: What happened to the Dolphins?

Dear Mr. Ross,

I arrived in Miami in the summer of '84. A skinny Cuban kid from New York. Up to that point, I had lived in a concrete box. As you know, that's how most kids live in New York. I had no idea what a yard was until I had arrived in South Florida. The fact that I could go outside at any time of the day was like being in heaven. Well, as much as heaven can feel like when you're 6 years old.

The summer of '84 was great. I would stay up late watching some of the greatest television shows ever created: The Cosby Show, Cheers, Family Ties, The A-Team, Night Court and of course, Miami Vice with my dad (Once in a while, I got stuck watching Dynasty with my mom. That Joan Collins was a real b--ch).

I was raving about movies like The Karate Kid (I remember crane kicking my cousin in the face trying re-create the final fight scene), The Terminator, Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom, Police Academy, Nightmare on Elm Street, Ghostbusters and The Natural.

If I turned on my radio it was either Like A Virgin, Time After Time, Caribbean Queen, Born in the USA, or Thriller.

(Sports and Dad)

My dad is a MONSTER Yankee fan. So, the only sports poster in my room was Donnie Baseball and many of my early sports memories were of Yankee broadcasts and Phil Rizzuto yelling, "HOLY COW!"

However, none of that compared to when I saw Dan Marino shatter every single season passing record on the planet that year on the way to a Super Bowl.

I think about it now and tingles run through my body.

My father came to this country from Cuba in the 1960's and lived in Miami until 1975 when he and my mom married and moved to New York. That was before returning to Miami in the summer of 1984.

As we watched the Dolphins games, my dad would tell me about the history of the team. He told me what it was like watching the undefeated season and how Don Shula was a God among men. He told me the reason Don Shula was the greatest coach was because he was capable of winning with the, "No Name Defense, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" as well as, the aerial assault navigated by, "Dan 'The Man' Marino."

I remember getting used to all the rain in Florida, but I also remember it raining touchdowns.

Week 1 they beat the Redskins on my seventh birthday.

Marino was pretty good that day too: 21 of 28, 311 yards and 5 TD's.

It was arguably the greatest present I had received that day.

Dan Marino had become my hero and the Dolphins were my team.

The Dolphins would start 11-0 and lose an overtime thriller in San Diego (as a Dolphins fan you hated those dreaded west coast games).

They eventually went 14-2 and ripped through the Seahawks and Steelers in the playoffs.

WE'RE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL!

I remember getting up early that Sunday. My neighborhood buddies and I drew up posters and wanted people driving through the neighborhood to, "HONK IF YOU'RE A DOLPHINS FAN!"

We all know the result that day.

My dad and I swore that they'd get back and Marino would have his day.

I also made Joe Montana my sworn enemy from that day forward! (I think that only lasted a few years).

Over the years, my dad took me to games at the Orange Bowl and would let me stay up to watch Monday Night Football.

December 2nd, 1985

I can vividly recall my dad pointing out every single member of the 1972 undefeated team who roamed the sideline that day for that epic battle vs the Bears.

The outburst of emotion when Marino hit Nat Moore for a 33 yard touchdown could be heard for blocks (my mom always shushing us, saying "what will the neighbors think?")

Danny Boy threw for 270 yards 3 TD's and set up a couple of Ron Davenport touchdowns and before you knew it, the Dolphins were up 31-10 at half. There was no beating them that night.

I fell asleep midway through the fourth quarter.

What do you want from me? I was an 8 year old kid and had school the next day!

My dad woke me up. I asked, did we win? "Yup," he said.

It was a good night.

The Dolphins won the AFC East that year and somehow lost to the Patriots who split time at quarterback between Steve Grogan and Tony Eason. Who was the coach Steve Spurrier? (I know, I know, it was Raymond Berry)

Nonetheless, you could hold your head up high being a Dolphins fan.

The Lean Years (or so I thought)

From 1986 through 1989 the Dolphins weren't very good. The Killer B's were either not stinging or long since gone. It was basically, Marino and the Mark's Brothers.

They were still an entertaining team to watch. Any team with that guy at quarterback was going to be worth the price of admission.

So much so, that my dad spent his hard earned money on season tickets in the hopes that they could get back on the rails quickly. It didn't happen, but man, we had a blast at the games.

I remember the inaugural season at Joe Robbie Stadium. Everything was shiny and new. The bathrooms were also much larger. Unfortunately, that didn't mean anyone's aim got any better in the men's room.

They went 6-10 that year. One of only two losing seasons in Don Shula's 25 year run with the Dolphins. It was also, the only losing season Marino ever had.

Think about this for a second. The lowest point in my childhood was one 6-10 year.

Now, maybe you'll understand why I ride the Dolphins as hard as I do.

F-U Buffalo

The '90's were pretty fun for the most part.

I'm actually talking about watching Beverly Hills 90210 and jamming to Ice Ice Baby.

The Dolphins were pretty good. They were never great. Only good enough to break my heart.

Don't get me wrong, there were some fun times; the narrow victory against the Chiefs in the 1990 playoffs, beating up on the San Diego Chargers in a rain soaked game in 1992, and Danny's revenge against Joe Montana (albeit against the Chiefs in '94.)

There were a few tough moments. Like Natrone Means stepping out of bounds at the two yard line and it being ruled a touchdown in San Diego (that was possibly the time I used the most curse words in one sentence, and it all actually made sense!).

Though, no one team in sports history gives me nightmares like Jim Kelly, Thurmon Thomas, Andre Reed, Bruce Smith and the Buffalo Bills.

Still to this day, I literally waking up in cold sweats thinking of screen passes to Thurmon Thomas.

They ruined my entire adolescence and they ushered out my coach in embarrassing fashion

Every time they lost a Super Bowl, part of me felt like I won. You could say it was a seminal moment in my life.

The Hater in me was born.

The talk show host in me thanks you, Marv Levy!

The Day My Fandom Died

After that, Jimmy Johnson came in on his white horse and was going to save my franchise that was teetering on greatness.

He was practically campaigning for the job while working at FOX.

He had just won back to back Super Bowls and had arguably the greatest run as a coach at the University of Miami.

What can go wrong?

He stripped the team down and tried to rebuild it like he did with Dallas.

The problem? He had no Herschel Walker. Well, he did, but, he'd have to trade Marino.

He wouldn't trade Marino, right?

RIGHT??!!

No, he didn't.

Though, looking back, that might have been his demise.

See, Jimmy had this three year plan. Jimmy was always great at outlining his goals to the media.

After the 1998 season ended in another playoff debacle, Jimmy had to be convinced to come back for one more year.

You knew that spelled disaster.

This last season of Jimmy also coincided with the first year I started covering the team.

Jimmy and Marino hated each other like poison. It was like watching your parents fight. It was particularly that way for me. Imagine, here's my childhood hero being pushed out the door by a guy who brought me some of the best times in my life as a sports fan.

I was terrified of both of them and just wanted to do my job and go home as quickly as possible.

For God's sake, Jimmy told Danny he couldn't audible in his last year! I mean, seriously?

Can you imagine what Marino was like after that conversation went down? It was probably very similar to the feeling he had after that Jaguars playoff game.

As I was watching my team get embarrassed in the worst beating in playoff history, I sank my sorrows in beer as I watched my hero play his last game.

That's the day the fan in me died.

The Rest of the Story: From Crown Jewel to Laughing Stock

The rest of the Dolphins history isn't very fun after that day. Shakespeare probably couldn't have written a better tragedy.

Wannstedt ruined the franchise. He took what Jimmy had started to build and ran it into the ground, along with Ricky Williams' body.

Nick Saban talked tough, but ran after he and six doctors failed to figure out Drew Brees was a better risk than Dante Culpepper.

All the Dolphins did was, "fail, forward, fast," in their lone season under Sham Cameron. They finished 1-15 and avoided infamy thanks to Greg Camarillo.

Bill Parcells came here and had the greatest turn around in NFL history in 2008. Though, a few years later we quickly realize that it was all a mirage.

So, we're left with a GM who we inherited without knowing if he can actually do the job.

A coach that the GM and owner (you) turned on, as they flew across the country to court the Niners eventual coach.

The owner (you) also hired a CEO who doesn't understand the history of this team or this town.

It was evident when they allowed the Dolphins team store to sell New York Jets gear.

Did they sell Yankees gear at the Red Sox team store when he worked there? I was there plenty of times and don't ever recall that being the case.

Most recently, this think tank of outsiders thought it would be ingenious to have a "Gator Day" celebrating the Florida Gators team that won it's latest National Championship at Sun Life Stadium in 2009?

Not only are you encouraging fans to openly root for the opposing team and their third string QB, but on top of that, you're also slapping one of your stadiums tenants in the face.

Dee had the audacity to say he didn't understand what all the fuss was about, because the two teams don't even play every year?

Ummm... Mike...

THAT'S THE FREAKING PROBLEM!!!!

I know they offered the U an opportunity to celebrate their 2001 National Championship team.

Week two versus the Texans might have been the right week to do it.

That idea only makes slightly more sense, but it's still ridiculous. Again, you're openly encouraging fans to root for the other team!

Mr. Ross, you grew up in Miami Beach a Dolphins fan. I'm sure, much like I have my memories with my dad, you have plenty of your own. Surely, in your heart of hearts you can't have thought this was a good idea.

There's no way a real Dolphins fan sees what's happened to this franchise over the last decade (most of which you weren't here for) and thinks that these gimmicks are going to remedy the situation.

You know what remedies this situation?

Winning.

That's it. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Your predecessor, for all intents and purposes, was a good man and an amazing business man at everything but being a football owner.

That proves the business of football isn't easy. I'm sure you learned that this off-season.

If Joe Robbie is the owner's equivalent to Don Shula, then Wayne was Jimmy.

Good, but never great with the Dolphins.

You sir are not trending towards Cam Cameron just yet. Thankfully! Though, you're feeling a bit Sparano-ish. You know, the guy you tried to replace.

I have never thought Tony is the biggest problem on the team. As a matter of fact, I like that he's trending less conservative.

You on the other hand, I don't know where you stand. Frankly, I don't know much about you at all.

I know you made a lot of money in real estate, you love Michigan Football and the Dolphins.

Well, since my childhood, I've purchased a few homes, I've been stealing money in the media biz for over a decade and I love the Dolphins too (contrary to popular belief).

So at least, we have the Dolphins in common.

This is an open invitation for you to contact me on or off the air and chat about what was once the crown jewel on South Florida.

I'm a pretty good gauge of the pulse of the community. I feel like maybe, we can both learn from each other.

You know, one Dolphins Fan to another.

 

JS

Jorge Sedano Show weekdays 6am-10am on 790 The Ticket

Follow me on Twitter @SedanoShow

email: sedano@790theticket.com

www.790theticket.com/jorgesedano.aspx

You can always down load the Jorge Sedano Show podcast on iTunes

Comments

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Sid Rosenberg

(((yawn)))...you lost me at, "A skinny cuban kid"

Bill

George, I don't always get the chance to listen to your show....but I do follow you on Twitter. You hit the proverbial nail on the head with this article (I just spent 15 mins of work time to read it) GREAT JOB

Sid's just mad you're a cuban guy.... with HAIR

octavio de armas

That brought memories for me too. Seeing them play at the Orange Bowl since 1969. I too have memories of the Perfect Season. Now the new ownership, management, coaches and gm don't feel right. I wish someone with passion would own the Dolphins.

Alex

Jorge, can all fans participate in this open forum and ask questions to the owner. I feel the same way you do.

Tom

I am a Dolphins fan from Syracuse. I follow your twitter for information and news about the phins. I couldn't agree more with you about everything you said. I was born into a family that all cheered for the Dolphins. What is going on now is tough to watch, having a owner turning his back on his coach especially. I hope this reaches him, Ross needs to understanding how people are viewing this tragedy.

Barry

I remember Marino's rookie season when Coach Shula put him in against Oakland. We lost the game but you could see what was to come from one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. As far as Ross is concerned, the time for talk is long over. Start righting this ship NOW!!!

Jeff

Wow man. I got the chills reading that. You took the words right out of my head. Good stuff Sedano. Loved your show before, and will enjoy it even more now.

Thank you,
- From one dolphin brother to another.

Gian

Jorge, you spoke(wrote) from your heart on this letter. Great one.

Tim

This owner is a man who, all along, has spat in the face of tradition. With every decision, he shows how truly out-of-touch he is with this team, its fans, and its tradition.

The fans do not care who "owns" the team, so all of your celebrity contributors are immaterial to us. But you brought them in anyway, so now we hear "I Need to Know" whenever there is a review because Marc Anthony is a co-owner. And then you replaced the one remaining staple of our glory years, OUR FIGHT SONG, with that ridiculous Fins Up debacle from Jimmy Buffet. You named the stadium for him, put his branding all over the place, and changed our song all to placate a guy who has no financial investment in the team. After a year, he was out the door, yet our song for 40 years was relegated to the "also played" category. And then you petition the NFL to limit our 1:00 games. Seriously? The one tried and true home field advantage (outside of South Beach nightclubs) that the Dolphins have, and you want the NFL to change it?

If you had half a clue, you would get rid of the Sun Life name and revert to, at least, Dolphins Stadium or, at best, Joe Robbie Stadium....which is how true fans still label it anyway. You would erect a statue of Don Shula and honor our tradition rather than consistently defiling it.

And on the topic of the Gators celebration...since the Canes are also a resident of the stadium, how would you feel if they chose to honor their former players who have gone on to the NFL by having a New York Jets Day at the stadium to honor such greats as Vinny Testaverde and Santana Moss. Your (and by you I mean you directly as well as those you employ) indifference and ignorance to this situation only further demonstrate your failings as an owner.

CJ

Wow Sedano. Great job. I'm a little older than you as I was a Freshmen at Chaminade in 1984 but I remember those days like they're yesterday. Unfortunately, this franchise has been living off those days for far too long. I think they're finally done trying to live off the '72 season. Now it's time for the franchise to get over the Marino years and realize this team has been irrelevant for over a decade. They are risking the loss of many fans in the near future. Pretty soon they will be competing with the best NBA team on the planet, a shiny new ballpark, and an up and coming NHL team for this community's sports entertainment dollar. It's not looking good for them.

Mickey

Ditto, Tim. Our owner is running the franchise into the ground Wannstauche style.

Peter

You nailed it Jorge, our dolphin history in a nutshell

Peter

Oh and Mr. Sid "not even a miamian" Rosenberg has to keep on with his sour puss against you and us south Florida sports fans talking nonsense how this is not a sports town and all his ridiculous allegations but we grew up here so we root for OUR teams regardless and we are critical when need be period he's just upset that he got thrown out of 790 which I couldn't even stand his show that was the only time I didn't tune it to 790 and now I don't even think 560 likes his work cause all he seems to use for his radio material off his clitche was his drug battle like if that's something to be even proud of and he always refers to commenting on Miami sports teams on the air like WE like if he's an actuall maimi supporter "freaking fonny" to now being cremated on the ratings and yes Sid ratings dont lie the facts are the facts its like a baseball hitters batting avg. showing what kind of year he's having just like ratings in sports radio cause he knows he can even compete down in this market like how you weren't able in your own hometown of NYC.....so I think we all agree that you should just keep your mouth shut and don't embarrass yourself anymore than you have oh and yes take DRE the annoying jets fan with you

vv

Sid at least made it in New York. The guy played more ball then this guy

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