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Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Miami Frauds

Rick Speilman "resigned" yesterday as the General Manager of the Miami Dolphins after an embarrassing tenure which saw the once proud franchise bumble and stumble its way through the player personnel market the way Bill McBride stumbled through televised debates. The Dolphins have for ten years now been on such a decline, once rabid fans like myself now actually root against the team more often than not. I simply do not want to see a franchise rewarded for making bad personnel decision, trying to throw money at every problem, defrauding the public and making the outrageous claim that there is some sort of tradition associated with a franchise that has not won a Championship in over 30 years!

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s The Miami Dolphins were South Florida in so many ways. The community was invested in the franchise's every win and loss and players and ownership were active in the community regularly. The Founding ownership of the Robbie family was more interested in putting an enjoyable product on the field that made South Florida feel good about its Dolphins than the bottom line. The Miami Dolphins were one of the few franchises in professional sports that built a national following and stayed loyal to its coaches and players for years. The Franchise was a model of consistency, with three Quarterbacks, one coach and one ownership family over a 24 year period. The Dolphins between 1970 and 1994 won or tied for the AFC Eastern Division title 15 times. Since 1994 the Dolphins have won the division only once.

The Miami Dolphins have been since the purchase of the franchise by Wayne Huzienga in 1994, more or less a complete joke league wide. The Dolphins are a sick joke however, which has been able to perpetuate a fraud on the South Florida sports community because of a combination of the local jockocracy as Howard Cosell once put it that are former Dolphins players who cannot be critical of the franchise and the obsession of South Floridians with NFL Football over any other professional and College Sport. (Including the Miami Hurricanes who have played for 9 National Championships and won 4, since the Dolphins last made the Super Bowl). The Florida Marlins who share Dolphins Stadium with the NFL club have won two World Series since the Dolphins last played in an AFC Championship game. In fact, the Marlins had not played the inaugural game of the franchise the last time the Dolphins played in an AFC title game. To make matters worse, every team that has played continuously since 1995 in the AFC has been to an AFC title game except for the Cincinnati Bengals and yes the Miami Dolphins. Ture, the Dolphins have had only one losing season in the period (last season), but they have been a mediocre franchise, that has sought to put bandaids over problems than to actually rebuild. This is a franchise that was 3rd in merchandise sales nationally in 1996 that decided to change its uniforms, logo and colors to give the team a "meaner" look the following season. Last year, the Dolphins were 14th nationally in merchandise sales. It was a change that Former General Manager Eddie Jones ridiculously touted as one his top three professional accomplishments with Dolphins. This is a franchise that ran off Dolphins Denny, who had been the face of the communities love of the Dolphins with a animal mascot named TD, with no community ties, no history and no business being on the sideline. Huzienga also replaced the original Dolphins wall of fame at Joe Robbie Stadium because it was taking too much space in the stadium which Huzienga wanted to sell for advertising in order to line his coffers even further. Huzienga also took the Joe Robbie Stadium name away and sold the naming rights to Fruit of the Loom for $3 million a year which is less than many players salaries. Why did he do it? Did he need the money? NO. He simply wanted to spite Joe Robbie's name, a man unlike Huzienga who did not take Government and taxpayer handouts to build his stadium. Is it coincidence or just punishment that the Dolphins have been losers ever since Huzienga bought the team and ran the Robbie family out of South Florida?

Rick Speilman made one good personnel move in his years in South Florida. He made a trade to get Ricky Williams, the first game controlling Running Back the Dolphins have had since the mid 1970s. What did the Dolphins do with Williams after back to back 1,400 yard plus rushing seasons? They chased him way, thanks in large measure to a coaching philosophy not fitting of a high school team. This is a franchise that traded a second round draft pick to Philadelphia for a third string QB. The Eagles then sent that pick to San Francisco for some guy named Terrel Owens who I hear is a decent player. The Dolphins also sent a third round pick to the Rams for RB Lamar Gordon, who had started a grand total of 4 NFL games in 3 previous NFL seasons prior to the trade. Gordon was injured in his third game as a Dolphin thanks largely to an offensive line that Pro Football Weekly rated as worst in the league last season.

The Dolphins despite this run of ineptitude have almost yearly raised ticket prices and have retreated publicly from the position they once held as the most community oriented club in South Florida. The hiring of Nick Saban gives a glimmer of hope on the field, but the Dolphins public relations and organizational arrogance will not change unless major steps are taken to return the Dolphins franchise to the community feel it had in the 1970s and 1980s. Good riddance on the "Miami" Dolphins. They should be called the Auto Nation Mammals.

(Coming soon..........a look at the Dolphins drafts and free agent signings during Huzienga's ownership)


JK said...

The Dolphins are the winningest franchise in pro sports since 1970. We have had only three losing seasons since 1969. The Marlins who you mention are winners in your book have had 9 losing seasons in 12 years of existence. Some winners they are. The Dolphins are winners and will be back at 9-7 or 10-6 this season. You can count on it.

egcanes said...

Spielman as Bill McBride...I love it!! Although Krusty the Clown would be a more appropriate comparison to describe this joker.

The Dolphins are the ONLY team in this community with a long, rich tradition. That's right. I'm about the biggest Canes fan around, but their tradition obviously doesn't match the Fins. When the Dolphins were running the table on the NFL in '72, the Canes were losing to the likes of Temple Beth Shalom. In fact, one can make the argument that if it wasn't for the Dolphins, the Canes would not have risen to prominance. After all, Howard S. cut his teeth as an assistant on the Fins Super Bowl team and Larry Siple, a PLAYER on the Fins in '72 was an assistant on the Canes first national championship squad.

Evey season hope burns eternal for the Fins precisly because of their history. I'm with jk, here's hoping the Fins can rebound from the debocale of the Speilstadt era and make the playoffs under Saban, who is sure beginning to resemble Shula in a big way.

Kartik said...

I agree with you Evan, but my point is that the Dolphins you speak of are dead. They died with the Robbie family selling the team and Shula bowing out as coach.

Anonymous said...

How dare you. The Dolphins ARE South Florida. They are the heartbeat of a community, a community that lives and dies with each game. The other pro sports teams down here are only the talk of the town when they win. You seem like a lovestruck kid who lost his high school sweetheart for ever and are forever bitter. Let's face it, the Dolphins are pro sports model franchise. The consistency displayed by this franchise is unlike any other in professional sports. Three losing seasons in the last 35 years. The first state of the art stadium in football which bears the team's name. A graceful logo which was adapted to the age we live in rather than to be a relic of the mid 1960s which the logo you seem to love was.

I personally wish the Marlins would either get a stadium or move somewhere out of the state so Dolphins Stadium can be for the Dolphins again. Two years ago, had it not been for the infield dirt, perhaps us and not New England would have won the Super Bowl. We've had bad breaks, but can you name one team that has had as many winning seasons as we have in the era you describe since 1995? Nobody even comes close. We are Pro Football's royal family, and will once again rise to the top real soon. The Red Sox didn't win a Championship between 1919 and 2004- are you going to claim they were losers and a bad franchise because every other team in that market won championships except for them? You are full of it.

Anonymous said...

Kartik, you are the fraud to be attacking a team that means so much to us this way. And who exactly is the jockacracy? Do you want to name names or take blind shots from behind your keyboard?

Kartik said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kartik said...

The Hurricanes do have tradition dating back well before 1972. they finished in the AP Top 20, six different times under Andy Gustafson in the 1950's. No they weren't winning championships but they most certainly were a national program, one that played the likes of Notre Dame, Purdue, and Texas very often. I have Sports Illustrated's 1962 College Football preview which had George Mira on the cover as the favorite for the Heisman Trophy. No he didn't win the big prize, but UM was most certainly a national program. The Dolphins intially had trouble drawing fans in the 1960s at the Orange Bowl, because UM featuring Ted Hendricks and Chuck Forman were playing a top national schedule and going to a bowl virtually every year.

Luis in Weston said...

Kartik, you are on to something. I had never thought directly of the Huzienga connection to describe the decline of the proud franchise. I attributed it more to the retirement of Marino, but you make an excellent case. I do miss the Robbie family and its community oriented managment of the team. Growing up in South Florida the Dolphins were everything. Now thank goodness we have the post-Huzienga Marlins and a real front office.

Anonymous said...

The Marlins? That's a joke. They can't even re-sign mediocre players when they become free agents. The Dolphins can attract almost anyone to play here because of the facilities at our state of the art training camp at Nova, and the great stadium as well.

Gregg said...

There's a lot of good points but I'm not putting the blame on the dolphins demise totally on Huizenga. Did the Robbie family have to sell the team? To my recollection, nobody pointed a gun to their heads. This was an evolving sport in the late 80's and early 90's and the dolphins were getting stale.

The "great" Don Shula and the Robbie family couldn't figure out how to get one of the greatest passers in NFL history any semblance of a running game or a defense. Well the defense got better in the early to mid 90's but at that time Marino's skills were fading and his best WR's were gone.

So what eventually hapenned, Shula retired (or forced out) by Huizenga and they brought in the darling of South Florida, the greatest coach of the next generation, Jimmy Johnson. I thought it was a great move at the time. I remember the Cane glory days and the Cowboys greatness and thing were going to change and they did. The team was terrible. They alienated fans by giving Don Shula some joke of a front office position (btw Does he still have that position?)

So Jimmy tried to rebuild but he didn't have a Hershel Walker to trade and Dan Marino did not have close to that type of value not to mention potentially alienating 75% of dolphin fans at the time.

Most of Jimmy's moves were terrible:

Kippy Brown (perhaps the worst O-Coordinator in football....well until Forester took over last year)
John Avery, JJ Johnson, the list of offensive duds is scary.

The worst move he made and where I would say this franchise took a further turn south was the hiring of Jimmy's guy, Dave Wannstedt.

Kartik has a lot of good points but we're not 14th in merchandise because we changed the uniforms. I happen to like the uniforms. The problem is we have no star player who can't stay off smoking pot.

I like the Saban move, he's the right guy for the franchise....I think???? Only time will tell.

Anonymous said...

The Dolphins managment is among the best in Football. Huzengia recently announced plans to renovate the Stadium, throw the Marlins out and build an interactive theme park next door to the facility. The Dolphins have had some bad luck with injuries and fluke losses towards the end of the season most years. In 2002, The Dolphins had New England beat up in Foxboro in the last game of the year but let it slip away.

Last season's 4-12 record was due to two factors. The Hurricanes that disrupted practice and games and also Ricky Williams dope smoking. We really were a 10-6 type team and expect to be around 9-7 or 10-6 this year.

FRA said...

I think anonymous is the true dope smoker, not ricky because you'd really need to be high as a kite to believe that the stewardship of this frnachise has blossomed under Hui$enga.

There was a pride that typified this team not just in Sout Forida but across the country and the globe in the Robbie/Shula era. Now we the Miami Dolphins actually look and are no more relevant than an Arena team.

It's been painful to watch what was once the signature sports franchise in the state slither and sink to new depths of ineptitude and irrelevance.

Kudos to Kartik for having the guts to speak what many other true aqua and orange fans quietly concur with.

And jeers to Hui$senga who has done more damage to this franchise than Uwe Van Schamman.

A once unthinkable thought.

Luis in Weston said...

Anonymous, what makes you believe the Dolphins were a 10-6 caliber team last season? Was it the great offensive line built by Speilman and his cronies or the play of Feeley that reminded us all of Danny Marino? C'mon, get your head out of the clouds, this team is sinking fast. It's going to be a several year rebuilding effort. Nobody has of yet mentioned the awful salary cap situation the Dolphins are in. It is possibly the most mismanaged cap situation of any franchise in the league except for San Fransisco and maybe Cleveland (both those franchises have the same front office to blame for the books being so wacked.)

We are years away from contending again.

JK said...

I see you Marlins have blown another game today. And you calim they are "winners." The Dolphins have had a higher winning percentage than the Marlins in 11 out of 12 seasons when the two teams have played at the same time, with the exception being last season.

MRT said...

I agree with Kartik's analysis. The Dolphins are now a corporate entity that ought to be overhauled to resemble the team that was so popular and fun to root for in the 1970s and 1980s.

Anonymous said...

The Dolphins are a lost franchise, and totally adrift. Totally worthless, a joke.

joe said...

I've given up on the Dolphins, pro sports ultimate choke artists years ago. We should have had this discussion five years ago, though I agree with fra that Kartik deserves credit for bringing this up now and facing the wrath of the clueless South Florida sports establishment.

Anonymous said...

The Dolphins have recognized the few mistakes the organization has made and quickly corrected them. Under the leadership of Mr. Huzienga, we will continue to be trend setters in pro sports. The renovation of Dolphins Stadium is a harbinger of more great thyings to come.

MJ said...

The Dolphins are a class act. Guys like Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas get active in the community and are responsible for many good deeds. The Dolphins have given much time and effort towards enhancing the product on the field and making Dolphins Stadium the top facility in the NFL. We have won so often and so consistently that people get easily spoiled. We are the winningest franchise in pro sports over the last 35 years. That's tough to top. We will coninute to strive to be the best.

Kartik said...

Pittsburgh is more like the model franchise that doesn't win championships. they've had two coaches since 1969 and they bounce back every time they have a bad season. The Dolphins and Steelers used to be similar franchises but now are not- why? The Rooney family still owns the Steelers and runs them as a community oriented family business and the Dolphins are run as promotion tool for a corporate empire that includes about 100 car dealerships across the country and various other business and political interests around the world.

mrt said...

"model franchise?"

R u kidding me? You must work for the team!

Anonymous said...

The Dolphins had one bad year and changed their uniforms. Big deal. They have still been successful and doesn't every one change uniforms and logos these days? Not to say the older logo wasn't better, because it was as is in most cases where teams change their look, but it isn't the end of the world.

Gregg said...

The other good move Speilman made was resigning.

Anonymous said...

With Saban running the show now, we will be doing just fine. Speilman had been forzen out in any event so his resignation was not a big deal.

jk said...

Randy Mueller is a hypocrite to take this job after being so critical of the franchise.

Anonymous said...

Kartik- you could do us a service if you continue to post things on your blog that we are not hearing from the local media- keep up the good work!

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I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.