It's official: Miami Dolphins football is back. Well, the real thing is still a few weeks off, but the Dolphins fumbled away a game-winning drive twice in a matter of 30 seconds in their preseason loss to the Falcons last Friday, so you can tell the real thing is just around the corner.
For everyone in Miami under the age of 35, saying the Dolphins are back is a mixed bag of emotions. On one hand, it's football, and football is awesome. On the other hand, Sundays are so painless without the guys in teal and orange. We hate that we love them, but at this point there is nothing you can do -- you're stuck with them for life.
Once upon a time, you used to be able to brag to your friends that the Miami Dolphins were the winningest team in professional sports history, a model for consistency, a perennial contender. Not anymore. Over the past decade, the Dolphins have gone 66-94 and finished with a winning record just twice. No playoff wins in more than a decade has numbed what was once a proud fan base. Now most of them just expect the worst, because it's all they can remember.
In the hopes that reliving these moments might banish whatever demons are haunting the franchise before the new year begins, let's look back at the most painful moments from the past decade of mediocre football.
1. In the face!
Never has a moment summed up what it is like being a Miami Dolphins fan more than this doozy of a play. Here the snapped ball represents 1974 to present-day Miami Dolphins memories, and punter Brandon Fields' unsuspecting face is your life. Fields' reaction after the ball smacks him pretty much sums up a decade of Dolphins fans emotions.
The play really is Dolphins fandom in a nutshell. False hope followed by a crashing realization that everything that could go wrong will, and when it does, it will be in epic fashion.
2. John Beck is the backward man.
When I began compiling fail moments, I wasn't quite sure this one actually happened how I remembered it. I was right it -- it was infinity times worse than I recalled. Just when you thought the 0-12 Dolphins couldn't up the suck-ante any further, quarterback John Beck threw this wet fart of a pass, completely tearing off the suck-o-meter knob altogether.
Even the TV guys couldn't believe what they were seeing. This is the clubhouse leader for rock-bottom moment in Miami Dolphins history. This is worse than Mark Sanchez's butt fumble. The butt fumble is LeBron James, but this play is the Michael Jordan of NFL QB fails.
3. Cam Cameron wants you to fail, and get excited about Ted Ginn's family.
Of all the Dolphins thing to ever Dolphins, having a coach nicknamed "Cam-Cam" go 1-15 in his only season with the team might be the most Dolphins of them all. It's as if the Dolphins came out with an Extreme Doritos-flavor season, exactly like their normal shittiness, just bolder! The 2007 was basically Dolphins sriracha-flavored suck. Cam Cameron was a hot mess from the day he set foot in Miami, never delivering on his reputation of being an offensive guru. Hmmm, sounds familiar.
Those thumbs never turned the other direction, but on the bright side, the Dolphins finally got Brady Quinn this week, so everything in the universe is right again.
4. Gator Day + Tim Tebow Epic Comeback = #ThatsSoDolphins
One of these things happening would have been embarrassing, but they happened the same day. The perfect storm of embarrassment, throwing your city's college rival a halftime-tuggy party and then letting their QB who looks like he's neither right- or left-handed pull off the sickest comeback ever on your ass. Up 15-0 with less than three minutes remaining, the Dolphins somehow threw up all over themselves and gave the game away, in turn birthing Tebowmania.
Tebow threw two touchdowns in 2:44, tied the game at 15 with a two-point conversion, and then led the Denver Broncos to a game-winning field goal in overtime. It was Tebow's first win of the year, and it sent the Dolphins to 0-6, well on their way to another lost season.
To reiterate: The Fins couldn't stop Tim Tebow.
5. Bullygate. Never. Forget.
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Last season's soap-opera scandal is the standard by which all things Fins-fan-pain-related will be measured for the rest of eternity.
When a sports team is mentioned on Good Morning America, CNN, and The View, that's normally a bad thing. Last season the Miami Dolphins made all of those shows and others when Jonathan Martin blew the top off their season with his bullying allegations. From top to bottom, the details that came out where embarrassing for the team and a stain on the franchise. A team that began the season with a promising 3-0 start would eventually fall flat on its face, scoring just a combined seven points in season-ending losses to the Bills and the Jets.
The Dolphins continue to try to clean up last season's mess, with five new offensive linemen taking the field for the first game this season. It will take a lot more than a few new offensive linemen to fix the past decade of pain.