There was a time when being a Miami Dolphins fan was a point of pride.
It was Miami’s first professional sports team, and despite its relatively young age, it created a history and culture that could rival any blue-blood in the NFL.
The Dolphins were once a steady and reliable franchise that was home not just to great players, but to great men. You didn’t see many controversies arise from the team. But on the rare occasion when they it did happen, the organization would weather the storm well, and have players and fans forgetting about it before kickoff.
That team is effectively dead, a relic of the NFL days of yore. In its place is a team that has become the NFL’s laughing stock of failed leadership, dumb players doing dumb things and overwhelming mediocrity.
The Miami Dolphins now are in a sad place, and just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, the team manages to find a new low.
The apex of this sad place might appear to have been the embarrassing bullying scandal from last year, one that forced the NFL to commission the now infamous Wells Report. The incriminating expose found a team filled with overgrown lost boys who seemed to refuse any and all opportunities to grow up. You might say that every NFL franchise (every professional sports franchise for that matter) has players like this, but with the Dolphins it became headline news throughout the country.
When NBC is reporting on your team, you want it to be Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, not Brian Williams.
After the Wells report, the Dolphins quickly cut ties with three of the four principles involved. Jonathan Martin was traded to San Francisco, while Richie Incognito and John Jerry (both free agents) were informed that their services would no longer be needed in Miami.
Only Mike Pouncey remained, despite the fact that outside of the Wells Report, he seemed to have the most character issues. He was also the only consistent Pro Bowl player in the group, and Jeff Ireland’s only draft pick to attain such honors (Cameron Wake, one of the few good guys on the team, was an undrafted free agent).
Keeping him seemed like a no-brainer provided he behaved himself, which he was able to do until he told the wrong joke at the wrong time.
Um…RT @MikePouncey: Great pick! I can’t wait for our gifts he’s getting us lol
— Thomas Galicia (@thomasgalicia) May 9, 2014
The only response I could muster for Pouncey’s tweet (since deleted, I embedded my own manual retweet) was quite short, simply because I was perplexed by the lack of timing or intelligence of the tweet. It might have been in jest, but showed a great lack of judgement, especially when the NFL has had yet to rule on Pouncey’s punishment.
Somehow, this wound up being only the second-most embarrassing tweet from a Dolphin last week, as safety Don Jones managed to tweet his thoughts on the coverage of St. Louis Rams draft pick Michael Sam.
Jones wasn’t the only player to comment on Twitter about Sam, nor was he even the worst. However, due to him being a member of what is now the most scrutinized franchise in the NFL, his comments made him an overnight sensation, and not in a good way.
The Dolphins themselves managed to mess up the handling of Jones’ tweet. While I vehemently disagree with what Jones said and his apparent viewpoints on homosexuality, the Dolphins handled it wrong by banning him from team activities until he completes sensitivity training. Doing that was the sign of a team struggling with its own culture crisis and tattered reputation in an attempt to save face.
Odds are that if Jones had been a member of any other NFL organization, he would’ve apologized and it would’ve been the end of it.
While I disagree with Jones’ punishment, what he said was still intolerant, and ultimately dumb. And because of the team he’s on and the issues they’ve had, both he and Pouncey should’ve been more careful in what they said.
Of course, Pouncey and Jones have something in common: They were both drafted by Jeff Ireland, who himself embarrassed the franchise with a question posed to Dez Bryant. The fish (or in this case mammal) rots from the head, and while Ireland may be gone, make no mistake that he’s as responsible for the current state of the Dolphins as anyone.
The Dolphins were the NFL’s embarrassment off the field last fall, and during draft weekend, things only got worse. These public relations disasters only obscure some of the good the Dolphins have done (no one is talking about the fact that the Dolphins had a solid, albeit unspectacular, draft where they managed to fill many key needs).
The Dolphins were the pride of Miami, and once upon a time were the undisputed kings of South Beach. They are now Miami’s black sheep, and not even a winning season could rehabilitate the team’s image.
Some Dolphins fans might think that after the bullying scandal and this weekend’s tweets that the media is now out to get the Dolphins and destroy the team.
Sorry, but the media can’t do that as well as the organization itself has done it in recent years.
Thomas Galicia is a lifelong Miami Dolphins fan who has written about the team for various websites since 2010. || Follow @thomasgalicia on Twitter.