With the great divide that forms a veritable crevasse across today’s society, media, of both the traditional and social variety have had their collective hands full, in trying to determine just what, or whom they should root for or be diametrically opposed to.
You would think, that as the only NFL franchise which boasts a minority general manager, head coach and quarterback, the Miami Dolphins would be a shoo in for every journalist to root for. Unfortunately, the national press isn’t quite that simple. For one thing, the Dolphins have been mediocre to poor for most of the past twenty years. Still, as I’ve steadfastly stated since first arriving here in early 2014, you’d be hard pressed not to believe that the media, in general have had it in for Miami since at least the mid 1980’s. This has been a source of much discussion and debate for quite some time.
There are those who argue that, if the Dolphins simply win more games, the media will like them, but I respectfully disagree. Although GM Chris Grier and head coach Brian Flores have turned the national perception of the franchise around with stunning ease over the past couple of years, up until about eighteen months ago, various sportswriters and journalists would routinely stick it to the Dolphins practically every chance they got. In contrast, other bad teams during much of the 2000’s and 2010’s, such as the Bills, Bengals, Browns, Cardinals, Lions and Raiders, seldom received the kind of scrutiny and criticism that the Dolphins frequently faced. Then again, none of those teams have ever turned in a perfect season, and when you combine that with the fact that South Florida has some of the best weather in the country, it’s not hard to see how a journalist based in the Northeast might not like us a whole lot.
But things are slowly starting to change for the better for the NFL team and organization that calls Miami Gardens home. For proof of this development, look no further than what is arguably the most relevant source of day to day football news and commentary on the planet — Pro Football Talk. Unlike their primary competitor, NFL.com, PFT’s pages are much easier to load and very seldom collapse on you when you’re trying to read something. That being said, it is likely that owner and founder of the site, Mike Florio, has singlehandedly caused more damage to the Dolphin brand than any other human being who has ever walked the earth. Although he founded the site more than 20 years ago, it wasn’t until mid 2009 that PFT hit the big time, when it was bought out by its current parent company, NBC. Florio was just four years into his newfound fame and fortune when he and NBC were presented, on a sliver platter, with a scandal that both parties were apparently determined to wring every drop of publicity and moral outrage from that they could. I’m referring to what became known as ‘BullyGate’, of course. We all know the details; second year offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, apparently overwhelmed by the demands and mental strain of playing in the National Football League, up and quit the team in October, 2013, and went home to his mom in California. Later, he and his parents came up with the bullying story — which was, at least to some extent, true — to try and recoup some of the wealth he walked away from when he quit the team. In another example of our wonderful media at work, his Wikipedia page doesn’t tell you what his rookie contract was worth. I have yet find another NFL player in recent history whose Wiki page does not contain that information. It does, however, say that he was the 63rd ranked offensive tackle, out of 69 NFL tackles as a rookie in 2012.
At any rate, PFT and NBC weren’t about to let an opportunity on the scale of BullyGate pass without making a major statement about how they felt about it, and Florio repeatedly and relentlessly savaged the Dolphins for weeks for letting such a travesty transpire, and at one point, Pro Football Talk ran an astounding 23 separate articles in a 24 hour period, devoted to the scandal. PFT hammered the Dolphins so soundly that at least one company who had gotten wind of the situation actually put up advertising billboards that tied into BullyGate, without mentioning the Dolphins by name, of course. Today, I’d be lying to you if I were to tell you that I don’t find it deeply satisfying to watch Florio squirm every time he has to weigh in on the Deshaun Watson situation. ”Look, guys, anytime there’s a new development, we have to report on it”. If only he’d been willing to say those words in October/November 2013, when he was talking about the Dolphins. And unlike BullyGate, which took place smack in the middle of the regular season, ‘MassageGate’ arrived after the entire season was over.
But when you go to PFT and read about the Dolphins today, they’re practically waxing poetic about our team. They love us. Sure, Chris Simms doesn’t like Tagovailoa a whole lot, but few in the national press do. After all, he’s unabashedly religious and attended college at the University of Alabama, which are two pretty big things that the media can hold against you. Florio, for his part, certainly seems like he likes the kid. One of the best measuring sticks of how far an NFL team has come, besides the obvious one, which is prime time games, is the announcers who are assigned to work the team’s Sunday afternoon games. Go to YouTube and check out the broadcasters that worked the home game against the Redskins two years ago, versus anyone who’s been assigned to them recently, and I think you’ll agree that the Dolphins have come a long way in a very short period of time. Of course, having what will almost certainly be the youngest roster in the league, and the NFL’s fourth most popular player probably doesn’t hurt, either. I’m interested to hear how our readers feel about the media’s coverage of our team, and whether you’ve noticed a change in how we’ve been covered more recently. That’s the wrap for today, have a great week, everybody.