I woke up this morning to the sound of my 2 month-old son performing his morning routine: explosive diarrhea. You guessed it, it was my turn to change. After I was done, I went to give my wife a kiss and her breath smelled eerily similar to what I was experiencing at the pack-and-play - so naturally, I kissed her anyway. I brushed my teeth like 13 times and hopped in the shower, where there was a nice clunk of hair clogging up the drain. I skipped breakfast in light of the fact that I was going to be late. I was surrounded by some of the worst drivers on Earth all texting on their phones and not paying attention. Then I come home from work, my son pukes on me, my wife turns me down for sex, and I need to mow the lawn and take out the trash. All in all, it was a great day!
Sound familiar? Well, not quite in the anecdotal way, but think about what we have endured as Dolphins fans in the last decade. 1 Playoff appearance, 9 different opening-day starters at QB, 7 different coaches operating the sidelines, an offensive (no pun intended) team that has finished in the top half of the league in points twice in 10 years, an offensive team that has finished in the top half of the league in yards twice in 10 years, a team that has finished 22nd or worse in turnover differential in five of the last six years. Organizational change, scheme change, coach/coordinator change, roster upheaval, the stadium has changed its name a bajillion times, and Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez are minority owners of the team. T-Pain wrote the latest Dolphins fight song.
Instead of driving yourself mad with George Costanza-type cynicism, take a few tips from your brother, Sutton. When you ask me whether the cup is half full or half empty, I just tell you to go back to the faucet and fill it up so there's no discrepancy. My glass is always completely full.
1. Brace for the worst, hope for the best. I'm sure you've heard this cliche, in some shape or form, countless times. It's not easy endorsing a paradoxical view that on one hand braces for the fact that Tannehill and Wake will go down with career-ending injuries and simultaneously hope for a W. It's odd, I know. But think of it this way: your mind is prepared for the negative that could inevitably happen (our brains like to focus on the negative...you could hear a thousand endorsements of praise from your co-workers, but your boss comes in and says you suck, and THAT is what you will remember) but your heart gets to embrace all the warm, gooey...ummm...happiness that comes from within.
2. Don't be overly critical. We all probably have one of those kinds of fans in our inner circle - the guy that seems to know everything and it's always to spite someone else or devalue another player's contributions. If only HE were the coordinator or coach, the offense/defense would be on par with the elite coaches in the game today. Even during a win, he poked holes in the running game, says the QB throws on the run terribly, and they were downright lucky overall. Elite players making millions of dollars make mistakes, coaches making millions of dollars make mistakes, GM's making millions of dollars get the wrong players, coordinators making millions of dollars call the wrong plays. Get my drift? I'm not saying that healthy criticism is wrong, because healthy criticism is what puts a little pep in our step and then we aim to improve ourself. Just don't be OVERLY critical. In other words, don't pass the torch to Matt Moore because Ryan Tannehill seemingly had a pedestrian game in a (to borrow Bahama's words) "pre-pre-season game". Criticize Tannehill's decisions and mechanics, but leave it at that. Matt Moore isn't coming in any time soon. Unless of course Tannehill has a career-ending injury, which I've already prepared for!
3. Admit that you're a Dolphins addict. I've been a hopeless junkie since I was 5. No matter how crappy our team performs, by God, I'm going to be there next Sunday with a beer in my hand. Here's a little excerpt from my then-girlfriend-now-wife and myself during the 1-15 season:
Aaron - "Ugh! I can't take it anymore. Why does my team always suck?"
Jennifer - "It's OK, babe. You can always be a Browns fan. They have a better record this year."
Aaron - (mumbling under breath) "How 'bout you suck my..."
Jennifer - "What was that?"
Aaron - "Wanna go watch Curb Your Enthusiasm?"
So if you know you will support the team through thick and thin, then prove it. Show up every Sunday and support them. Harboring all that negative energy during the week is only gonna get in the way of your
beer drinking happy thoughts. Remember...Greg Camarillo! Greg Camarillo! Say it with me...
4. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Got me through many o' tough times. If we start off 0-5 this year, well....
5. Find the reason we will take the next step. Usually it's a new coach or player to reinvigorate the fan base, or sometimes it's a player already on tap that is ready to break out. The 2013 Miami Dolphins have quite a few candidates - none of them come without questions marks, but iotas of hope nonetheless. And if we finish with 6/7/8 wins and miss the Playoffs, who is gonna be that guy for you? How are we going to improve? Focus on improving instead of throwing rotten tomatoes at the guys bombing on stage. It's really easy throwing rotten tomatoes (and mildly fun as well) but it's quite a bit more difficult to see the silver lining. In case you haven't heard, being a Dolphins fan can be difficult.
6. Count your blessings. In desperate times, it's easy to spout off. This is the time you count your blessings. Gus Frerotte is not our QB. Dave Wannstedt is not our coach. No RB's retired this off-season. Reshad Jones got a contract extension. Ryan Tannehill's wife is pretty hot.
Michael Egnew looks the part. Even if we are losing, there are things to respect, acknowledge, and benefit from. There will always be reasons to believe a team can become that perennial power.
7. Times are always a-changin'. The NFL is based on parity for a reason. Each and every year, a very large percentage of teams have a chance to get in the Playoffs, and thus win a championship. I'm too lazy to look it up, but you all know by now what happens: a team goes from worst to first in a division, a Super Bowl participant doesn't make the Playoffs, 50% of the previous Playoff teams from the previous year are replaced, yada yada yada. The beauty of the NFL is that every year CAN be our year - and this especially feels good when your overly-worked mind can actually, logically ascertain that it's a possibility. Many of us fans have experienced this at one point or another this off-season. And I'll be honest, it kind of feels strange. I've been programmed to be negative towards the team because I hear it from everyone else. But in the ebbs and flows of the NFL, anything can happen, and I hope that works to our advantage this year.
8. Chicks dig dudes with big...smiles. It takes 22 muscles to smile, 37 to frown. You should smile out of sheer organismic-conservation-of-energy. It also takes 125 muscles to elevate the beer to your mouth, and 377 to put the beer down. OK, I made that last part up, so just smile, damnit.
9. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. What's that you say? I've already covered this? Oops...kinda popular in my book, but let's move on.
10. The Patriots should be, ought to be, no way in Hell they can, well...they're almost done. We have endured one of the most prolific division strangleholds in the NFL. They might have a couple of years where they make some noise, and knowing our luck, they will probably draft the next stud QB and not miss a step. But for all intents and purposes, it sure looks like Brady and Belichick's days are numbered. We, on the other hand, are quite young in especially the right areas. When the Patriot's chokehold is reduced to something from "50 Shades of Grey", then it gets a little more enticing. Now, we can be competitive. And by virtue of being consistently competitive, we can win the division. Last time I checked, division winner gets a Playoff spot. From there, anything really can happen.
Well, there ya have it! And remember, when the Dolphins are down in the 4th quarter and we are attempting a comeback, your beer isn't half empty or half full. They got that sh*t in kegs! Fill it up! Harness in the good energy, block out the bad. Harness. Energy. Block. Bad. It's like a carousel. You put the quarter in, you get on the horse, it goes up and down, and around. Circular, circle. Feel it. Go with the flow.
Phins up and take care, everyone! Cheers! So what are you excited for this year? Let me have it!