Yes, on January 7, 1990, Joe Robbie passed away - and I contend that's when this mess that we call Dolphins football started.
Sure, Robbie had his ups and downs. His share of glory moments, and his mistakes. That's part of being an owner - or running a business. But overall, the success he had from 1966-1990 was astounding. And realistically, he left the team in good shape.
So, let's look back and hilight some of the mis-steps that got us to where we are today. Some are things the Dolphins did, and some are things that merely happened. But it kind of gives a sense of perspective:
- The Robbie family fights over control, and frankly Tim doesn't quite have the "will" that his father had. They sell a portion of the team to H Wayne
- Sammie Smith is drafted (need I say more?)
- They lose to Buffalo in the playoffs (to end the '90 campaign)
- They agree to play an exhibition in Tokyo. They do beat the Raiders in that game, but its the longest road trip ever
- Miami loses to the Jets on a last-second field goal and misses out on the playoffs
- Charley Winner retires as Miami's pro personnel director (this was key. He was Shula's right-hand man)
- Hurricane Andrew devastates, though you couldn't call that a Dolphins mistake.
- The fins host the AFC East championship to end the 92 campaign, but lose to the Bills (again)
- The Fins opened their current training facility. While it is a good thing, there was a certain austerity about the old facility that made it special. Now they have a palace.
- Marino suffers the achillies injury
- Miami loses to New England during the last week of the season and is eliminated from the playoff contention
- H Wayne buys out the Robbies
- Rick Weaver (*the* voice of the Dolphins) retires
- The Fins lose in the playoffs to close out the 94 season; its a loss to the Chargers on a missed field goal
- Shula decides he'd rather not draft. Oh wait. He drafted a bunch of guys who amounted to nothing (Billy Milner ring any bells?)
- Miami again loses a game in Buffalo in the playoffs
- Don Shula "retires"
- Jimmy Johnson takes over
- H Wayne signs the deal to name JOE ROBBIE STADIUM "Pro Player Park"
- There's contention over the broadcast rights, but it gets worked out.
- At 8-8, they go nowhere
- Gary Stevens is yelled at on a team flight by JJ and fired.
- The new logo is unveiled. Unfortunately, they didn't select mine (Flipper with rabies as I called it)
- TD (the mascot) is introduced (on second thought, maybe this is where it all went downhill)
- The Dolphins lose to the Patriots to close out the season, and have to travel to New England to play the Patriots as a wildcard. Any guesses what happened on that day?
- They hire a new offensive coordinator
- This was a quiet year. Miami beat the Bills in a playoff game, then went on to get hammered by the Broncos
- They hire a new offensive coordinator
- JJ quits, then unquits
- The Fins hire Wannstache at JJs request
- The Fins change offensive coordinators again
- All hell breaks loose as the Dolphins get - well routed is even a strong enough word - annihilated/embarrassed by the Jaguars 62-7
- Jimmy quits
- Dave is promoted
- Rick Spielman is hired
- Dan Marino is helped to find the retirement village
- Hey whaddya know, they hire a new offensive coordinator!
- H Wayne does something "odd" when he "explores strategic alternatives regarding the financial structure of the Dolphins". I think this was when it truly turned into a business
- Jay Fielder?!
- Miracle in the Meadowlands
- The Fins make the playoffs, and beat the Colts...
- ...only to get clobbered by the Raiders the next week
- Things are quiet for most of the season. After all, focus was on the 9/11 and recovery, and sports provides a nice outlet
- At the end of the '01 campaign, the fins make the playoffs. But the stadium is only half full, and they lose to the Ravens.
- A new OC is hired!
- They trade for Ricky. Two firsts and a second! Wow!
- There's more contention on the radio front.
- The Dolphins lose to the Patriots on the last week of the season, and miss the playoffs
- The Dolphins wear those awful orange jerseys for the first time (I don't like 'em!)
- They miss the playoffs again, and the "December swoon" is now being talked about
- H Wayne chooses to restructure his football operation and there will be a GM and coach
- Rick Spielman gets the job as GM
- There's shuffling of OCs, as one guy gets it, and someone else quits, and someone else takes over. Now you have a guy who's never really done this job before
- Marino spends 21 days as the senior VP in charge of nothing.
- They trade for a QB
- Ricky Williams quits
- There's an oddity with Mare hurting himself in warmups, and the Fins having to go to Wes Welker for PATs.
- Wannstache quits
- "Master" Jim Bates takes over
- The Fins miss the playoffs
- But H Wayne has a plan to bring a big-name to the team. He flies to the home of Nick Saban and "talks him into" coming to the Fins.
- On the business side, H Wayne restructures to, well, make more money
- Joe Bailey joins the organization (remember him? Yeah, I didn't think so!)
- We get another OC!
- Another QB is brought in
- Another flap about radio rights
- Randy Mueller is hired as GM
- The Fins open the "Gallery of Legends" which is very nice, but based on how bad they've been for the last little while, legends seems long, long before
- Nick tells everyone what they want to hear publicly, and derides everyone privately. We don't know it yet, but he's a horse's ass.
- Of course, they miss the playoffs
- Another year, another offensive system
- Nickie has a choice between trading for Daunte Culpepper or signing Drew Brees. Its obvious how this one would go.
- But we also get another QB in a trade (Harrington, yipee!)
- Ricky comes back
- Another change to the operations, re-aligning the stadium in some way - making it a destination of some sort
- Nick really doesn't like coaching the pros. His wife is unhappy, and says as much just after they leave. He wants to be worshipped, lauded, praised. Instead, he's a head coach in the pros and is chastised. He tells us he's not going to Alabama, and then goes to Alabama.
- Need I mention that there was another miss of the playoffs.
- Its time for the epic "Wayne's world tour. He won't stop until he gets a coach!"
- He interviews a dozen or so candidates - many of whom have success later in other cities - but decides on Cam
- He and Mueller are joined at the hip in making decisions or some such nonsense
- Cam tells us he's gonna fail forward fast
- And he does
- He gets Trent Green and Cleo Lemon
- He gets called out by J Peasy
- He goes 1-15, and it seems like, well, he doesn't care
- And there's another radio rights dilemma
- Cam is fired, Randy Mueller is fired
- Bill Parcells is hired. Is this... a ray of hope?
- Parcells hires "his guys" in Tony Sparano and Jeff Ireland. And then, he doesn't voluntarily say another word for the remainder of his tenure in Miami.
- But fans are stoked!
- They draft an actual QB. Something that hadn't been done since Marino retired a decade before...and it was someone who was tabbed to start at some point, which hadn't been done since 1983.
- They trade JT
- The Fins get Chad Pennington
- They unveil the wildcat
- They go 11-5, which is great. And lose to the Ravens, which isn't so great
- Side note: I now understand that the reason they went 11-5 instead of 7-9 is because of Pennington.
- But things are on the upswing, right?
- Stephen Ross buys a stake in the team
- The Dolphins lose Pennington to injury, and in comes Henne
- JT comes back
- Stephen Ross buys 95% of the team
- Parcells is offered an out clause
- It becomes celebrity city, with all the minority owners, and all the hype.
- Jimmy Buffet gets involved and re-writes a pretty good song into a stupid one.
- There's a crappy auto-tunes song written
- It suddenly becomes not-at-all about football. And all about hype.
- The team struggles to 7-9, and is going nowhere
- They overuse the wildcat
- But we still have Bill, and its going to get better! Right?
- JT leaves to go to the Jets
- A new defense is installed (what? not a new offense?)
- They lose on successive night games to the Jets and Patriots in cover-your-eyes awful games
- The special teams coach gets sacked
- Somewhere in here, we're told that Parcells is now a "consultant" for the team rather than the VP and he's "upstairs watching film"
- Only it was a ruse. The guy quit, and no one wanted to tell us
- He calls out Henne on national radio - "helllo?"
- The OC starts playing it really safe, and fans call for his head
- Chad Henne looks lost, and can't motivate the team
- Sparano has become a coach that settles for field goals - OMG he's using Wannstache's mustache!
- The season plods along and you know it won't end well.
- 7-9 is the final tally.
- And here we are. Lockout looming. A coaching search that was a disaster. Sparano and Ireland are still here. Players calling out coaches
- It is ugly, and now I think quite funny