Wednesday, December 25, 2013

It Was Exactly 42 Years Ago To Date That I Became A Dolfan

Merry Christmas Dolfans of the world,

  My name is Carl Leone, I am 55 years old, I live in central New Jersey and have been a Miami Dolfan since Christmas Day 1971. I was 13 years old and hadn't picked out a team yet. Growing up in New Jersey prior to the NFL Ticket on DIRECTV, I could watch the Giants and/or Jets regularly and then the playoffs. That was about it and in those days the Giants stunk and the Jets were fairly decent with Namath.

   So in 1971, my Mother's family came down for Christmas dinner from Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania. Coal mining country. They were all Eagles fans, my brother was and still is a die hard Raider fan, and my Dad hailed the Redskins.

   After opening gifts, we put on the divisional playoff game, Dolphins at Chiefs. The plan was to watch the game and eat dinner afterwards. Best laid plans of mice and men. Everyone else hopped on the Chiefs bandwagon. Having won the Super Bowl 2 years earlier, they were loaded with talent: Len Dawson, Ed Podolak (who had a monster game), Otis Taylor, Jan Stenerud (only kicker in HOF), Curley Culp, Buck Buchanon, Willie Lanier and Emmit Thomas. We had made the playoffs for the first time the previous year, losing to Oakland, but we were road underdogs as you can imagine.  A total of 12 Hall of Famers suited up in this game.

   So just to be antagonistic, I cheered for the Dolphins. That's exactly how and when I became a Dolfan. Christmas Day 1971!!! Just to be argumentative!

   Well the game went into double overtime. Everyone keep saying "We will eat when they score. They are gonna kick a field goal. They have good field position. They are gonna make this one."  For over one extra hour that's all that was shouted back to the kitchen when my Mom would announce "The turkey is ready. Lets eat."  Finally, Garo Yepremian split the uprights! But the damage was done. All across America, over cooked turkey was served.  I, however, sat down with the biggest dried out turkey eating grin on my face and the love affair began.

   The following week we shut out the Colts at home and went to our first Super Bowl. Wow, 2 weeks and I am in the Super Bowl. Not bad for a rookie fan.

   The next year was magical. I would invade my high school library to read the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, anything that would cover the Dolphins in any way shape or form. Week after week, we won. Gym class was exciting, walking the halls was exhilarating, everyone was becoming aware of my devotion to the Miami Dolphins. I was elected class wit upon graduation, so I was pretty popular and funny. Everyone enjoyed my company. And now they all knew alright, Leone is a Dolfan! Except we weren't called that back then.

   We go undefeated and win the Super Bowl, 17-0! The next year we go 15-2 and win the Super Bowl again! In two years and three weeks, we won 2 Super Bowl Championships out of three Super Bowl appearances! Talk about timing is everything. In my first 107 weeks as a Dolfan, our record was 40-3!

   The next year, 1974, with Czonka, Kiick and Warfield announcing they were leaving for the greener pastures of the defunct World Football League, we fell into the Sea of Hands at Oakland and the streak of 3 consecutive Super Bowls ended. For the next 30 years we have only 2 losing seasons. That's absolutely incredible to think about but we went 34 years with only 2 losing seasons. And I was along for this glorious ride.

   I feel blessed to be a Dolfan. I did live in West Palm Beach during the 1980's and attended 90% of our home games including the 1984 AFC Championship. From the Orange Bowl to Joe Robbie to Pro Players to Sun Life, been there, won that.

   We used to be the winningest franchise in all 4 major pro sports. We did have the highest regular season record amoungst them all. The last 9 years have been difficult to say the least. Only 2 winning seasons. But I have the pride of knowing what we were and what we will be again. I have the faith that the glory will be regained, the luster returned and the respect that came with wearing the Aqua and Orange rejuvinated. We aren't that far away.

  To all my fellow Dolfans, keep the faith. Don't forget the day you became a Dolfan and lets make 2013-2014-2015 a time to remember and savor for a lifetime!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971 
carldleone@aol.com            

14 comments:

  1. Amen Carl! The Dolphins will rise to supremacy very soon!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Alleluia, Seth! Alleluia!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Actually, the dolphins would have gone to the Superbowl for a 4th straight year, if it were not for a bad non-call by the referees. Cliff Branch did not catch that long bomb. If Miami had gotten the ball back at that point, Miami would have gone to the Superbowl a 4th time in four years and won; a record that would have never been broken!

    ReplyDelete
  4. You are so right. And Benny Malone scored too soon for us down the right sideline with 2 minutes left. If he fell doen on 1 yard line, we could have milked the clock and kicked game winning FG instead.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Carl, due to all of these facts; I say that the 70's dolphins are the greatest football team ever!

    ReplyDelete
  6. You won't get any argument from me, Dave.
    They were very dominant. Just pummeled some teams.
    Did you know that the 17-0 team had the #1 Ranked Offense and the #1 Ranked Defense that season?

    ReplyDelete
  7. No, but I would not doubt it though. Don Shula was the first coach to incorporate that two headed running attack, with quality backup. Don Shula was the first head coach to incorporate the home run bomb with Paul Warfield. Don Shula knew how to get the best out of his players. He knew who his clutch players were and they always came through for the team. Thus, Don Shula is the greatest pro football coach ever! Can you imagine if Dan Marino, who is the greatest QB ever, had had Ricky Williams as his runningback. It would not have been fair to other teams.
    I say that Dan Marino is the greatest QB because none of his major records were broken until changes were made to generate more passing yards.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tony Nathan avg 4.6 yds a carry. We just trusted Marino's arm more.

      Delete
  8. Yeah, I agree. Tony Nathan was a good runningback. Our best clutch receiver ever, was O.J. Mcduffie. If you needed 5 or 10 yards and you had to have it; Mcduffie was your man! He almost never dropped the ball.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. David, I was just comparing Hartline to OJ McDuffie. Other than last week, Hartline has been clutch as well.

      Delete
  9. I am old enough ( too old) to remember the first season when Joe Auer who was a grad of Georgia Tech, ran back the opening kick off game against the Raiders

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh our age has been exposed Bill.

      Delete
  10. I was too young to get to experience the glory years. I became a fan at the age of 8 in 1981 and do still remember watching the 82 super bowl as well as the amazing 84 season. I live in the Midwest and the 85 Bears was the bad wagon everyone was on so that Monday night game was special as well. It was always Marino all through my childhood watching them. They were never on TV so I was always watching the "10 minute ticker" and was glued to half time for some highlights. It feels like forever since we had hope of returning to a top team. But despite the most crazy season I have ever seen, we are coming in the final game of the season with a solid chance to make the playoffs. Nothing is worse getting into the last 2-3 games of the season and knowing your out of it. Even better I feel like we will be even a better team next season. I don't recall feeling that way in a long long time. Nice Post Carl!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gofins4sb, your day is coming! I can feel it. We are so close. Who knows, it could be sooner than we all think.
      And you are so right gofins4sb, it is so much better to have meaningful games in all of December.

      Delete