How it all began: My Dolphin Story
By John D. aka son of a son of a shula
I was 7 years old. The only real thing I knew about football was that my three older brothers would clobber me when I had one in my hands. Growing up in Connecticut, just outside of New York, the Giants were the team always on TV and the team most cheered for. Suddenly out of nowhere there was a loud noise across the football landscape, there was a team threatening to be undefeated. A team that was new and wore far different color uniforms than that of which we’d become accustomed to. They had players that no one had heard of, they had a real young coach, with a distinctive jaw, and they just kept winning. They even had some “old” guy playing quarterback. My older brothers became enthralled so, me, as the kid brother followed along. The Dolphins were turning the football world on its ear and we loved it.
The Dolphins were a fancy looking team and to see them on television was a huge thrill. My Father and Grandfather were very skeptical of course. How could a new team with teal and orange colors ever be a force against the Giants, the Packers, the Steelers or the Cowboys? “They were just lucky”, they said. I knew it wasn’t luck, I just knew. These were the Dolphins and they could beat anyone. As the dominance and popularity grew so did the magazine articles. We’d rip out every picture and hang it on the wall. Sports Illustrated, Sport, Sporting News we ripped ‘em all out. We couldn’t get enough of the fancy uniform and the cool logo.
Losing the Super Bowl to Dallas the previous year put the Dolphins on the radar but no one could have expected the unprecedented season which would follow. It did and the bandwagons loaded up, myself included. As a seven year old I was just having a lot of fun with it mostly riding on the coattails of my older brothers’ enthusiasm. Once the 72 season ended we geared up for the next year this time with a better knowledge of the team and a stronger desire for more.
The Dolphins didn’t let us down either. With only two loses and then dominating the playoffs including spanking the Vikings in the Super Bowl. We were the fans of a magical team, the team with the fancy uniforms and the funny names. Csonka, Kuechenberg, Den Herder, Kiick, Griese, Mercury and a guy named Little who was HUGE. Garo Yepremian! It was the crooked nose under the funny looking face mask that Csonka wore. It was the gigantic fu-man-chu mustache on Manny Fernandez, the bald head of Dick Anderson all defining this great team. How come the middle linebacker wore number eighty-five? Our safety wore number thirteen. Why were there two I’s in Kiick?
Our team was the best, the best and once the playoffs started the next year we all knew the Dolphins would win it all again. Now we were older and playing organized ball ourselves so we had a lot more knowledge and expectation to go along with the Dolphins invincibility. Then it happened. It was incredible and it was devastating all at once. We clenched and prayed as the Raiders drove late, knowing they would scare us, but come on these were the Dolphins, they were just going to win. Stabler was about to get sacked and we were in mid air cheering when the “Sea of Hands” play occurred. How, how did this happen? It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I was shattered. I was in shock.
Of course we all know that the team came back to reality. Csonka, Kiick and Warfield went after the big money and our team became just another team. Good but not great. Don Shula continued to lead the team to the playoffs seemingly every year so we always felt the glory could be re-captured. I still yearn for it. I still in a way expect it, oddly enough. I sometimes still look back on those times as a seven year old when those colors were magical and our team was unbeatable, what an impression it left on me. I think about the pictures on the wall, the football cards, the various Dolphin shirts and paraphernalia my brothers and I had. Larry Seiple’s football card said P/TE. Csonka’s crooked nose is perhaps one of the most indelible marks left by those days.
So I’m starting to get older now and a little less wide-eyed, yeah we make the playoffs every year but come on where are the Super Bowls. Then along comes Dan Marino. I’m out of High School and our family had moved to Florida. This kid is insane – look at him throw the football. That magic was damned near restored, you felt it again. At least we felt it again.
Through it all I remained the most die-hard out all of my brothers, they are much more casual fans than I am. I raised my daughters to be fans and God bless them they are though what have they seen to endear them. It must be the uniforms! I’m ready to start a new chapter of greatness, to witness it and get caught up in it. I mean after all I still expect it. Our current team is heading in a good direction. Despite the amount of negativity, there is so much I like about the make-up of the current team. They have a rallying cry from last years let down, they have a hunger. The heart must come out. These guys have to believe in each other and play for each other.
I always get very optimistic at this time of year; it’s where I come from as a Dolphin fan. The new season brings another opportunity to be great. I saw it so many times before. The years are piling up now and we’ve all witnessed the frustration of the last many years but I believe better times lay ahead and we are headed right for them. I have a lifetime invested in this team and the best parts were as a wide eyed little kid, it was wonderful. I’m a diehard, I’m a believer!
One man one Dolphin fan!
* A sincere Thank You to Tin for allowing my story to be shared here.