Famed Austrian-Hungarian stunt performer Harry Houdini (1874-1926) was known for being able to extricate himself from restraints that were seemingly impossible to get out of. In front of huge crowds, he routinely escaped from handcuffs, ropes, chains, straitjackets and even jails. Later, he would curl himself up inside a wooden crate, have the crate nailed shut and lowered underwater, then somehow get out again before he ran out of breath.
This offseason, the Miami Dolphins have pulled off an escape from some suffocating salaries and a roster that was rife with dead weight and overpaid and/or underperforming players with the same kind of panache that Houdini was once known for. The national press has chosen to focus almost exclusively on the talent that left the building while failing to acknowledge just how adroitly the Tannenbaum-Grier-Gase triumvirate has maneuvered itself to remake much of the Dolphins’ roster on the cheap.
I admit it: I’m unabashedly optimistic about this team, this program, and this franchise. If the Miami Dolphins were publicly traded on the NYSE or Nasdaq, I’d be buying up shares left and right, because the team looks to me to be a lot better than they’re being given credit for by most observers right now. Yes, they were 6-10 a season ago, but that was with having almost everything go wrong before they even stepped on the field to play their first game. One of the problems that fans and press pundits tend to have in the modern era is that we’re often preoccupied with the salary cap, and what individual players are being paid. When I first started following the team, in the mid-1970’s, this wasn’t an issue. The average NFL salary in 1975 was somewhere in the neighborhood of sixty thousand a year, and even that figure was misleading, due to a few star players, like Joe Namath and our own Larry Csonka, who were paid much more than that. Fans, for the most part, never knew what their favorite players were making. Take WR Mike Wallace, for example. He actually played very well for Miami when he was here, but the team was paying him so much money that he could never live up to the lofty expectations that fans had, and they quickly soured on him.
But the salary cap, like everything else, can be interpreted a couple of different ways; when we have players like Ndamukong Suh and Jarvis Landry on the roster, the so-called experts say that they’re being paid too much. Then, when we trade or release those same players, they say we won’t be competitive after letting our star players leave town. In essence, the news outlets want to have it both ways: they criticize Miami, for paying their players and then criticize them again when they refuse to overpay them.
When I run down the list of the eighty or so names on the current Dolphins roster, I honestly have a hard time trying to figure out how the heck the team is going to cut it down to fifty-three guys. come September, when eight to twelve players that the Dolphins have cut end up on the active rosters of other teams, how will NFL.com reconcile that with their having had us at #30 in their power rankings? Then there is that wonderful draft guru, Mel Kiper. He was apparently less than enthusiastic about the Dolphins’ draft this year, but remember when, in 1994, he ripped the Colts for taking LB Trev Alberts over QB Trent Dilfer? This guy is wrong far more often than he’s right; I’m amazed that people even listen to him anymore.
‘Slick50 Head’ still makes plenty of money doing his schtick every Spring, though.
I see ten wins on Miami’s schedule this season. Who’s with me? It’s an exciting time to be a Dolphin fan.