When I was told of the topic of this "sponsored post" - to select a team from a certain year that did something "classy" that was worth noting - there were a couple of different routes I could have taken. But when I was reading the description we were provided, one particular aspect jumped out at me.
When considering what to discuss, I kept coming back to the idea of choosing a team that "rallied around a cause" - as the description read. And though it was not of some social significance or of any real community value, I just kept coming back to that 2008 Miami Dolphins team - a truly magical group that put together a truly magical regular season.
That season, of course, was orchestrated by Chad Pennington - who was dumped by the Jets after eight years of loyal service and 61 career starts for that franchise. Pennington joined the Dolphins less than two days after the Jets cut him. And that move was the key to what would become a historic single-season turnaround for the Dolphins.
Now I'm not going to say the Dolphins rallied around Chad Pennington that entire season. That would be trivializing all of the hard work that went into that outstanding turnaround in 2008. But heading into that final regular season game against the Jets, you can't help but believe that Pennington's new teammates were seeking some revenge on their leader's behalf - even if Pennington himself wouldn't admit it.
"Well I was lucky because we played the Jets twice," Pennington told NFL Films' Steve Sabol. "The first game, I didn't want to play the game of football. I wanted to get out there on the 50, put on the gloves, and let's go at it."
"I wanted that one too much," said Pennington.
He told Sabol that the first game was, indeed, the grudge match. But not so much when he returned to New York to take on the Jets with a division title on the line.
"But 16 weeks after, all that was gone. There was such a peace about it. And it wasn't even like I was playing the Jets. It was, 'we're playing for the AFC East crown. We're playing to make NFL history here.'"
That, however, didn't deter Chad's teammates from making it about him after the game - after the Dolphins were AFC East Champions and celebrating inside the walls of Giants Stadium while Jets fans exited sad and depressed.
"That's how you knew it was so special," teammate Jason Ferguson told NFL Films. "There wasn't anybody saying to give the ball to Chad. Nobody had to say that. It was just guys grabbing footballs and saying 'This is for Chad, this is for Chad.'"
If you watched the post-game locker room celebration, then you probably saw how these guys sure did rally around Pennington. And after the game inside that locker room, many of the leaders of that team made it known they had revenge for Pennington on their minds.
Before Pennington had even reached the locker room after the game, players were anxiously awaiting his arrival. "He's coming, he's coming," Jason Allen shouted as Chad was nearing the entrance.
"C.P., C.P., I’m going to brag for ya, ‘cause you won’t do it," shouted Joey Porter. "I told you, man. He was our savior."
"Chad came in like he always comes in: ready, focused, wanting to make everything perfect," added Ted Ginn. "Believe it or not, it's a better situation for him. He came here, he took over and we got behind him as a team."
Leave it to Channing Crowder to sum it up best.
"He was coming out yelling at the defense the entire game. He wanted to beat these guys. It was a division game. It was for the playoffs. And it was a team that released him to bring in somebody else," said Crowder after the game. "And now Chad came back and beat the hell out of them and all of the people who were booing him at home. Chad's not going to say it, but he can tell them to kiss his ass."