When I arrived on this site roughly six years ago, there were two specific things about the Miami Dolphins that stood out to me, when comparing them to, literally, any other NFL team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. One of them, which was the way the team had been allocating its draft picks in the early rounds, has thankfully changed for the better over the past few seasons. The other is now approaching a fifty year run of biased coverage by the national press of South Florida’s venerable NFL franchise, a bias which has been at least somewhat evident since the Dolphins won their second consecutive Super Bowl in January 1974.
One of the defining hallmarks of the era in which we currently find ourselves is the phenomenon of what I like to refer to as ‘overcompensationism’. Because being morally good and righteous, and being respectful of our differences with others — and these are certainly wonderful things to aspire to — is of paramount importance nowadays, the other side of the coin is that we now feel that have we license to do almost anything we find necessary to punish those who fail to adhere to this code. First, though, let me give you a brief rundown of how overcompensationism works. Let’s say that you and your wife are having company for dinner, and you’re preparing the evening’s meal in the kitchen together. Much to your consternation, there is a very pesky Green bottle fly (genus: Lucilia) buzzing around the kitchen. Your wife says, “Honey, can you do something about that damn fly?” You reply that, yes you can, and you go and pay a visit to your buddy from college, who just happens to belong to a paramilitary group. An hour later, you return with two hand grenades, and proceed to unpack them from their crates in the living room. Your wife emerges from the kitchen and asks you what on earth you’re doing. You respond that, hey, our neighbors are going to be here soon and we’ve got to get that fly. The likelihood that you’ll probably destroy that entire side of the house in the process is secondary; that you must swiftly and decisively right a perceived wrong is of utmost importance.
That’s obviously an extreme and hyperbolic example, but this is largely how the media operates today. Probably thousands of people have reported on and written about the Miami Dolphins over the course of their 55 year history, but one man has inflicted more damage to the Dolphin brand over that period than any other. His name is Mike Florio, owner and one of the main writers over at ‘Pro Football Talk’. Florio, a bristling social justice warrior, absolutely savaged the Dolphins in October/November 2013, when news of Miami’s ‘Bully Gate’ scandal broke. Florio and his fellow correspondents at PFT repeatedly and relentlessly published story after story after story for weeks — in the middle of the season, no less — including an absurd 23 articles in a single day, devoted to what a mean, nasty, cruel organization the Miami Dolphins were for permitting such a travesty to occur in their locker room. It’s mostly because of Mike Florio and PFT that advertising billboards, containing veiled references to the scandal went up around the country, and the Dolphins were the butt of jokes the world over for months afterwards.
So, why am I bringing all of this up now, more than six years after the fact, with the Dolphins poised to embark on what will almost certainly be their most exciting off-season ever? Because Zach Thomas belongs in the Hall of Fame, and the media’s refusal to forgive Miami for its three most unforgivable sins — Bully Gate, South Florida’s awesome weather, and the granddaddy of them all, 1972, are what’s keeping him out. With our collective distrust of the national media at an all time low, and better than seventy percent of the public now not trusting them any further than they could throw them, I’m not particularly upset that the media obviously doesn’t like the Dolphins. To the contrary, I actually consider it a positive now. But Thomas, easily one of the top ten middle linebackers ever to play the game, belongs in the Hall. The guy may not even be able to remember his own phone number five or ten years from now; at the very least, we owe him that much.