I want to start and thank this community for the amazing welcome. This is a dream come true. I figured I would follow up, and pull up a chair and let you all know who I am, and why I wear these colors like a badge of honor.
This peice below was written on my old Facebook group a few weeks before last April’s draft.
This runs a tad like Endgame, but no end-credit scene.
Told Ya Mr. Hier...with ya til the end of the line!
In December of 1990, I had a bit of a good conundrum as a nine-year-old, new to a Long Island neighborhood. I was getting new friends and had a birthday party to go to that was what I thought would be a normal, “Sports” party. The norm was soccer, baseball, basketball, dodgeball, etc. However, this one had a very specific asterisk on the invite.
Wear a football jersey – Football Party.
“Uh oh,” said the rail-thin, nine-year-old version of myself who pretty much never touched pigskin, nor knew that pigskin had anything at all to do with football.
To preface, my Father was always a baseball, golf and tennis guy. My Mom could name every New York Knick since the ’60s.
Back to that fateful Friday night in 1990. I was nervous. OK…I was freaking out. This was a social and athletic make-or-break for me. My first real chance at a first impression at the sport I would grow to love.
I was at ground-zero of football IQ. I was a mere 15 hours from being dropped off as the “new kid” to the now-defunct “Sports Authority” on Long Island, NY. Not the retailer, god-rest-its-store.
The Sports Arena that was as popular for Kids parties then, as bounce and trampoline parks are now. And no-one ever had to sign anything! Parents – I know you know what I am saying!
Anyway, time was passing and I was unable to sleep soundly knowing I was hours away from potential massive embarrassment and social-Siberia in a Sports sense.
Then two things hit me.
1- Grandma Edna’s last birthday gift – A crisp, barely used Encyclopedia. So, I did what was the precursor for Googling, and the norm from that day on in my youth when I needed quick info. I had an Encyclopedia set. Now for the “F” volume. A quick flip to the Football section wafted terms to my brain that were as new as peach-fuzz to me. I was 5’10’’ at 9.
“Line-of-Scrimmage.” “First-Down.” “Lateral.”
“What the heck is a Quarterback?” Said this neophyte, naïve young lad.
I saw the dreaded, See Quarterback. Ugh, I have to go back to the shelf.
I got the “Q” volume.
Here it comes…the point in history it happened. Moment 1. My very own instant that I can look back at as my “Doc Brown, Flex-Capacitor Moment.”
Quarterback- Position of leadership on the offense of an American Football Team.
Then came the picture.
I was amazed because I knew I recognized those colors. And that guy. I knew something clicked.
To the closet.
There it was. Almost amazingly, never touched. Folded as if the day I received it a mere few weeks ago. Tag still on.
#13. Aqua. Medium.
I was shocked. My mind was blown that…
2- I had a jersey, and I was prepaered. Thank the good grace of Joe Robbie! I wasn’t showing up in a T-shirt.
For the first time, I donned the colors that run through my veins today. I was sold. And I won’t lie…I looked gooood.
As if I were clicking on links of Wikipedia and going on tangents left and right, I had more volumes of Encyclopedia’s on my floor than I had fingers. I was in.
Not only was I going to look like I belonged, but I also had a CliffsNotes version in my mind of the game. I was prepared.
I knew that there were 4 downs. I knew the positions. I knew the rules…ok, enough to get by.
Most importantly, I had the answer to the question that saved me, yet at the same time, makes me think about that old Zenlike story of the farmer and the boy....
You know the one where the kid falls off the horse and the other person says to the farmer, “how horrible” and the farmer says, “We’ll see?”
Then the other boys go to war, the hurt kid stays home, and it’s “how great?” Yet the farmer says,
Something like that...
That question was. “how did you become a Dolphins fan?”
Here is where my Father’s advice in the car was as valuable as gold that morning…”Short and sweet, Jay.”
My answer was as honest and short as possible.
The joy and misery of Displaced Fin Fandom began. Yet, that day was a massive success for that 9-year old and created my very first tattoo of recognition on the “new kid.”
He was now, “The Dolphin Fan.”
And at a good head above most, I was thrown at WR and loved it. Soccer goalie skills helped.
I was simply able to accomplish the goal…blend in.
There were Giant jerseys. A Montana. A few Jets…but I was the lone Fin. And it was glorious.
Amazingly as I began following the game, this coincided with many moments both on the field and off the field that provided Quantum Leaps in my fandom. Almost as if a fan of destiny, my passion for this team grew and started to become a bit more than a passion.
The Starter Jacket. The Marino-led Comebacks. The dominance of #13 being the game’s best Quarterback as I entered my early teenaged-years.
Silly coincidences like two of my two favorites shows growing up having 1972 Dolphins in "American Gladiators" with Larry Csonka and "Inside the NFL" with Nick Buoniconti.
And then those jerseys. Oh…man….those jerseys.
Hightlights of Duper and Clayton. The Marks Brothers...
Here come those cosmic milestones that sent me on the path I still travel today.
1992- This was the first legitimate full-season I went into the year as a knowledgeable fan. Schedule breakdown in the New York Newsday when it was published that Sunday and the NFL preview was 32-pages. 30 being Jet and Giant coverage. Anyway…
They were amazing that season. 11-5 and a trip to the AFC Championship game. Sure they lost to the hated Bills, but this created that bar for me as a fan, as well as the rest of the fans in my basic generation. I loved cut-ins to Miami watching New York TV and Sunday Night highlight shows were my very-first aspect of Must-See TV.
Guys were on this team like Troy Vincent, Bernie Parmelee, Keith’s both Byars and Jackson, Bryan Cox, Webb and Sims to protect the franchise, to name a few. Louis Oliver!
I started walking a bit taller in football conversations as the Jets were, well, grounded mostly during this time. I had a swagger to my football fandom, for better or for worse.
Back to that “we’ll see.”
1993 hits and like a karma-induced kick to the groin, Marino gets hurt with his Achilles year-ender and we have not much but the Leon Lett game to take us back to that season.
HOWEVER- with my family munching on stuffing and cranberries, I was glued to the TV. THIS was my first live-view, freak-out moment. Freak. Out. Moment.
We all know the story, but this one was special and my family from parents to great aunts knew I had a new, and truly first passion in my young life
Miami Dolphins Football.
Then the funniest thing happened. Literally and figuratively. Another birthday party comes up. This one was new – a movie party.
Great! A flick and some cake. I’m in!
You all know what’s coming.
Ace Ventura. As ironic and as idiotic as it sounds. This was another boost for me in my fandom.
Sitting in that Long Island theater, as a 13-year-old, I was the source of the cameo connections. Subtle bursts of laughter and name call-outs from ONE person…Yours-truly.
“HA, Marco Coleman!” “Kim Bokamper with the haymaker!” “Is that Dwight Stephenson?!”
The birthday boy’s Dad (Giant fan thankfully), was shocked.
“You a Dolphin Fan, Jay?” He asked.
“Yup,” I said.
“Why?” Asked the inquisitive dad rudely interrupting the scene when Ace is looking for the gem and currently clutching Don Shula’s hand in the mailbox….
I answered with the same exact two words I did some three years prior.
The movie continued, but the question was answered.
Short and sweet.
I walked out of that theatre a Man. Not because I was Bar-Mitzvah’d three weeks prior, but I was now a knowledgeable, go-to reference for Miami Dolphins football.
What 13-year-old from Plainview, NY notices who KIM BOKAMPER IS, making a cameo, punching Jim Carrey in the head?!?!
This was great.
1994 Season – Pure-bloods, you again know what’s coming.
The Fake Spike was monumental for me. As a New Yorker, again, this was a game I had ON TV! My own living-room! So, I thought. We watched the first half at home, then had a scheduled plan to go to friends a few towns away for dinner. 20-minute drive. Long Island Expressway traffic makes it an hour. We planned to leave at half-time, but it was no matter. The 3rd quarter passes. Thankfully my family showed mercy and compromise and allowed it on the radio for the drive.
The house we were headed to was my Dad’s best friend. A family I knew since I was in a crib.
We pulled up and I ran past the Mom and her three daughters, and immediately planted myself in the living room next to Elliot, an uncle-like figure of mine. He wore Namath.
He did not know how HUGE of a fan I was becoming, and there was about a two minutes left. But I wore Marino.
Timing in life is everything and my jacket was not unzippered, yet the aqua was visible, and I witnessed the first berserker moment in my sports life. Jacket off.
The. Fake. Spike.
I circled his living room/foyer/dining room – Elliott did well – as if I were running laps on a track. I can close my eyes and tell you the picture placement of his family. That moment is and will always be etched in my brain…forever.
I was not a very welcomed guest for the immediately following dinner. I was in fairness and honesty arrogant and rude and turned into, well, a Dolphins Fan at my hosts’ table. They were shocked.
“This is the Jason we knew since birth?” They must have been saying. I was, let’s say, in rare form.
Elliot and I still battle in person and on social media to this day.
The point is, for me, these colors run deep. I live, breathe, and die…hard, with this team.
We are a geographically large fan-base of passion. Our team, that of historical greatness, and we all are ready to return to respectability and reputability. We all have our origin stories.
For me, being a Fins fan doesn’t necessarily define me…but outside of the love for my family, I have no greater passion in my life.
Is this a good thing? Will this fan, and all of us die-hards see them lift a Lombardi Trophy anytime soon?