The Miami Dolphins once owned South Florida. Two Super Bowl Championships, three more Super Bowl appearances, a Perfect Season, Dan Marino, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Don Shula, two losing records in 34 seasons from 1970 through 2003. That is a lot of winning and an easy way to solidify yourself as the biggest sports show in town.
The Dolphins have been stuck in mediocrity for the past two decades, however. They have made a couple of playoff appearances, but do not come away with wins and long runs. It has been anything but the success they had in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
Meanwhile, the Miami Heat have turned Miami into their town. Three NBA Championships, two more Finals appearances, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Shaquille O’Neal, all since 2005.
Miami belongs to the Heat right now, but it may not be that way long.
Wade retired from the Heat in 2019. Who is the superstar dominating South Florida right now? There is not one. The Dolphins do not have a national star. The Heat do not have one. The Miami Marlins, Florida Panthers, and the fledgling Inter Miami CF? None there either.
Except, the Dolphins may have landed one this year. With the fifth-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Dolphins added quarterback Tua Tagovailoa . Since his selection, fans have made his jersey the top seller according to NFL Shop.
In fact, they have actually made his jersey the top two selling jerseys, with both aqua and white options.
Tagovailoa is appearing in national level advertising campaigns.
Miami appears on the verge of having their next true superstar - and it will be with the Dolphins.
Wade sees the possibility of the Dolphins reclaiming the town he turned into a Heat fan base. “He’s a hell of a player,” Wade told ESPN on Wednesday of Tagovailoa. “Miami, especially at the QB position, really needs that. They need a leader. They need a player. To come in as a young player and win a game in the second half of a national championship game — that shows some grit, that shows some balls. People have to really believe in you. Miami needs that. The Dolphins need that. Even though I’m a [Chicago] Bears fan, I was rooting for them to get him because Miami needs to get back to where the basketball program is.”
He continued, “If the Dolphins get it going, it’s going to be Dolphins town. We did as much to make it a basketball town as possible, and Miami Heat is there to stay. But let’s not get it twisted: Florida is football. Once they get their s--- together, they are going to be big and bigger. But those Heat guys — Bam [Adebayo], Tyler Herro — are going to battle him for it. He’s got to earn it. How you put yourself in that conversation is doing something great, something that people have never seen before, and obviously winning.”
Former Dolphins running back Ricky Williams - himself a national-level superstar for the Dolphins following the Dan Marino-era in South Florida - also weighed in on Tagovailoa’s potential impact on Miami. “When I got down there, the Miami Dolphins were Dan Marino’s town and team. It’s still that way,” he said. “I was a running back, but no one has even come close to eclipsing the success that Dan had in Miami as a quarterback. Even more so than what I experienced, Tua has the potential to be a big part of what it means to be a Miami Dolphin for a long time.”
Can Tagovailoa turn Miami back into a Dolphins town? Wade and Williams seem to see the potential on paper. Now Tagovailoa has to prove it on the field to reclaim the Dolphins’ position atop the South Florida sports landscape.