If you love someone, set them free.

Death Done Us Part

 

It’s been a great 48 years, it really has.  Well actually 39.  Hey, that’s Larry Csonka! I feel like there should be a ten-year rule, but I’m fixin’ to violate that sucker.  You know fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.  Fool me thrice, I’m a mice.  Fool me four, I’m a whore.  Fool me five, you talkin’ jive.   Fool me six, pick up sticks.  You get the point.  As a fan of a sports organization, I feel like I owe the Miami Dolphins something.  They gave me some days, weeks and even years of unfettered joy.  But that was 34 years ago.  Hey, that’s Ricky Williams!

            I was in south Florida in 1971. I was there for the undefeated season in 1972. I was four. I have a picture of me standing on the sidewalk in my Dolphins replica helmet in my brother’s hand me down underwear.  I was with them through the painful WFL defection in the mid-70’s and the Dan Marino pseudo resurgence of the 80s-90s.  But in 2008 is when it all started to go south. Like beyond Key West south.  Like Bermuda triangle type south. 

            A real estate magnate from New York named Stephen Ross bought the team.  I was pissed.  I felt something bad about this guy.  Have you ever known a real estate magnate who was a great guy?  Me neither. He was no Wayne Huizenga that’s for sure.  Ross could care less about the Dolphins.  He is a billionaire and whether his asset wins or loses football games, he's a huge winner.  It’s uuuge, if you get what I’m saying.  Whether the Matriculator and a couple hundred thousand other jablonies ever buy another Cleo Lemon bobblehead will never register on Ross’s bottom line. At some point I have been forced to decide whether I’m going to fish or cut bait.  I’ve fished with the Fins for exactly 48 years (hey today’s my birthday), but I’ve decided to cut bait.

            There is nothing worse to a sports fan than being called a fair weather fan.  It’s wasn’t the nuclear bomb of insults as a kid, but as an adult it’s a good ways up the scale.  I can’t count how many times as a Georgian I’ve walked up to a guy with a Patriots cap on and said, “What part of Massachusetts did you live in?” About 90% of them say, “I never lived in Massachusetts, why do you ask?”

“Oh, I saw the Partiots hat.” 

“Oh no, I grew up in Houston. I just like the Patriots.”

“You should get up there sometime.  I hear the weather’s great around December,” and then I walk away feeling satisfied I have belittled the fair weather fan into submission and hoping to dodge the right hook he wants to aim at my jaw.

            So this is not a decision I come to lightly.  I fully recognize the gravity of it.  It’s important to stay the course.  For richer or poorer is an American mantra for every crappy spouse.  Don’t abandon ship Captain!  But I’m not the captain.  Yo no soy capitan, yo no soy capitan, soy madinero, soy madinero, soy madinero.  Bamba, bamba.  I don’t know, it doesn’t have the same ring to it.

             Well I reached that point this week with the most ridiculous trade in sports history.  Okay, it’s not the worst ever, maybe just a top ten. The Dolphins traded for a cornerback that nobody would take on their team for free, and a linebacker who has suffered two knee injuries in two years.  What is so frustrating is that there was a point when it appeared there might be a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel.  We (I shall use the term “we” one final time) had unloaded one of the worst personnel men to ever show himself in the NFL in Jeff Ireland.  But then we brought in a boob that’s almost Ireland’s equal in Mike Tannenbaum.  It’s particularly frustrating when you and your son happen to be, verifiably and objectively, the best NFL draft scouts on planet earth. It’s simply unbearable.  It’s a Chinese water torture from which even a Chinaman would have turned away.

            This has been going on for a while.  I remember the first time I threw something at the TV.  It was 1998 and I was watching the NFL Draft with the Matriculator, Jr. who was 7 at the time and had already developed into a better talent evaluator than Mike Tannenbaum.  The Dolphins were drafting at pick number 19.  We had determined that the top pick in the draft was Randy Moss, so he wasn’t on the Dolphins' radar.  He was a no brainer, but a few teams were scared away because he got caught smoking pot as a 17 year old high school student.  Of course he’s now in the argument (though probably a loser) as the greatest receiver in NFL history.  Back to the draft, Moss slipped past pick number 5.  Then past 10.  I begin to get agitated.  Could we really get the best receiver to come out in a decade?  “Trade up you Hogwallops!” I screamed.  That’s where the Coen brothers got that from.  “For crying out loud!  Matriculator Junior! Take off that Barney costume and get in here!” He swears he still remembers that day. Now we’re at 12, and the anxiety rises to an almost unbearable level.  The wife comes down the stairs.  "You need to settle down in front of the kids!”

            “Settle down?  Settle down! Do you have any idea who Randy Moss is!”  

             “No. Wait, is he that tall one?  He’s kind of cute.  What team does he play for?  Can we get some tickets?”

            “When the Dolphins draft him in 10 minutes I’m buying season tickets for life for the whole family.  Children, parents, grandparents. Even that cousin in jail. I don’t care if we live in a car!”

            Now this got her interested.  She knew I wasn’t quite serious, but she hadn’t seen me this worked up since I punched that kid’s father on the opposing softball team.  So pick number 16 passes on him and so does 17. I’m in a frenzy.  “Trade up you spengy mengengy!” And then it happens.  The greatest words I had heard in my miserable life up to that moment.  “With pick number 18 the Patriots select Robert Edwards.”  I wanted to kiss the Patriots GM and Robert Edwards and every person I saw on the screen over the next 5 minutes.  I began jumping around, screaming, “The Dolphins got Randy Moss!  The Dolphins got Randy Moss! Holy mother of Crom!” I paused only when the commissioner approached the stand to deliver the coup de gras for the AFC East.  To deal the fatal blow to the burgeoning Patriots dynasty and the Bills wide right and the J-E-T-S, suck, suck, suck.  “My God look at the commish.  His suit is beautiful.  I love you man.  Say it! Say the words! Haha! Shh! Shh! Here it is.”

            “The Miami Dolphins have traded the 19th pick to the Green Bay Packers who select Vonnie Holiday.”

            Objects were loosed in a frenzy rarely seen in the great United States of America.  Words never printed in a Webster’s came into violent being, forged in some distant cave by a Neanderthal without name.  The wife cobbled the children together as best she could, though the Matriculator Junior threw a few toys around the room.  The next day he asked his mother what spengy mengeny meant, and she didn’t know but told him not to repeat it. 

              Moss was selected two picks later and went on to one of the great careers in the history of American sport.  The Dolphins used their first rounder on a scat back named John Avery who none of you ever saw play. Looking back at it, that was probably where the seed was sown.  That was the beginning of the end of the fishing trip.

            By the 2010 NFL draft the Matriculator Junior, at age 19, was one the best draft scouts in the world.  We sat down for the draft ready to roll.  Our adult Christmas had arrived and we had the Dolphins draft plan laid out in all its glory.  With pick number 12 we wanted safety Earl Thomas, if he was still there.  In the second we had our eye on a little known tight end named Jimmy Graham.  Pick 11 rolled by and Thomas was still on the board.  We high fived a few times and waited.  “The Dolphins have traded their first round pick to the Chargers who select Ryan Mathews.”  The Matriculator Junior was a grown ass man, so there were two people throwing things and creating words, and scaring the bejesus out of the misses.  “What‘s going on down there!” she sceamed.  Some people just never learn. The Dolphins selected Jared Odrick who was a solid player, while Earl Thomas went on to become the NFL’s best safety and has played, so far, in two Super Bowls.  But okay.  Maybe we’d get Jimmy Graham.  At least we had that to look forward to in the second round.  Graham was still available and we took Koa Misi, a solid player but nothing special.  Rob Gronkowski was drafted two picks later.  But wait, our third round pick arrives and Graham is still on the board!  Thank the lord for third chances. The Fins drafted John Jerry, who was horrible and cut a few years later.  Graham has been the second best tight end in the NFL for five years.

            After the 2010 draft, we realized that we were the top draft scouts in the world, but that’s what everybody says right?  After the fact everyone says, “I loved that guy coming out,” but they can’t prove it.  Right then I decided, “I’m starting a website.  In five years anyone can go back and look at our prospect rankings and we can prove, without a doubt or an argument, that we are the best NFL talent evaluators in the world.”  The Fantasy Matriculator was born. People regularly misinterpret our statements as bragadosio.  A bit of derring do.  They're not.  It’s like saying the U.S. has the largest military or Jerry Rice has the most touchdowns in NFL history.  It’s simply a statement of fact. 

            So in 2010, our little outfit would have had Earl Thomas and Jimmy Graham in Dolphins uniforms.  In 2011 we had Randall Cobb in our top fifteen players and the Dolphins could have drafted him at the end of the second round, but didn't.  In 2012 we would have drafted Lavonte David, arguably the NFL’s best linebacker, in the first, Russell Wilson in the second (we had him graded as a first rounder but realized that all of the other NFL teams were too dumb to draft him even in the second round) and T.Y Hilton in the third.  Go look at our draft board.  Yes we put that out before the draft.  It would have been the greatest draft in Dolphins history and the greatest draft in NFL history, but that’s a story for another day.  So in three years the Dolphins would have had Pro Bowler Mike Pouncey at center, Pro Bowler Russell Wilson at quarterback, Pro Bowlers T.Y Hilton and Randall Cobb at wide receiver, Pro Bowler Jimmy Graham at tight end and Lavonte David at linebacker.  It would have been the greatest NFL team ever assembled.  

            But 2013 was the horrowshow.  For a description of the scene, the Randy Moss episode above is a good starting point.  We won’t recount the gory details, but suffice it to read our posting of May 9, 2013, a few days after the Dolphins traded up in the draft and selected Dion Jordan with the third overall pick.

            It has taken Dolphins fans here at Matriculator headquarters days to begin to even speak again.  April 25, 2013, a day that will live in infamy. However, we are optimists.  We will be seeing a lot of Dion Jordan on T.V., it just won’t be in a football uniform.  He will be modeling underwear for GQ and starring in the NFLN 2017 special “Greatest Draft Busts of All Time”.  For Crom’s sake!

            Unfortunately we were correct again. Jordan, three years into his career, is squarely in the argument as the worst draft pick in NFL history.  He’s never missed a game due to injury and has posted a career total of 46 tackles and 3 sacks.  I got a sack for him too.

            So all this and we’re back to the age-old question.  Our wife, who we swore to stick it into, I mean out with, for better or worse has just disappeared for a week after her mother’s fourth wedding where her brother threw up on the wedding cake and then punched the wedding singer.  Not the wedding singer!   I’ve just returned from the doctor’s office and they gave me the bad news that I have an STD.  I tell my wife and she non-chalantly throws out a, “It was probably that Jamaican guy from my trip to Daytona for biker’s week.  We got any more a those Habenero Cheetos?” I mean I do have permission at this point, don’t I?  What happens when for better or worse turns into worse than worse? It’s time to cut bait.  Death done us part, if you get my drift.  Anybody know where I can get some Raiders’ gear?

 

March 7, 2016