Heroes Of The Week!- Super Bowl Edition

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I was behind on my news munch this week so I had to run a hurry up offense in order to get this episode nestled onto its Friday morning doorstep. You could say I winged it, and that’s no guac. But I figured out a way to make this a Super edition by including a member of both the Niners and the Chiefs in my lineup. Yanno, in the name of fairness and world pizza.

And now your heroes . . .

Heart of Gold- Richard Sherman is going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer whenever he decides to hang up his cleats, but in the game of life he is already there.

In November, Sherman wrote out a check for almost $7,500 to the Cabrillo Middle School in Santa Clara, California that wiped out all lunch debt owed to the cafeteria. A month prior to that, he wrote a check for over $20,000 to the Tacoma Public Schools in Tacoma Washington to clear all lunch debt there as well. Since 2013, Sherman’s organizations- The Richard Sherman Family Foundation and Blanket Coverage Foundation- have raised more than $1.5 million dollars to provide students in low income communities with school supplies and clothing.

This dude is already super.

A real Life Saver- For all I know, this might have been Timothy Prather‘s first rodeo. But you’d never have known it from the way the nine year old sprang into action to save his little cousin. Timothy was enjoying a night out at the rodeo when his three year old cousin Connor began to choke. Welp, Timothy knew exactly what to do thanks to a first aid poster he’d taken notice of in the cafeteria at Ramer Elementary School in Tennessee. He applied the Heimlich and dislodged the candy from Connor’s throat. This story had me wondering how many adults know how to apply this life saving move.

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Take this job and shovel it- Remember kids, my heroes run the gamut. They don’t need to score the real world headlines to make mine. They just need to show me some kind of wonderful, and when they do it in the quiet? That’s butter. Fed Ex driver Melvin J. Marlett of Manistique, Michigan supplied the flavor recently when he was delivering a package to Jodi LaFreniere. The kindergarten teacher wasn’t home but the motion sensor on her security camera resulted in a notification text, and when she checked out the video footage, there was Marlett . . shoveling her front stoop. Of all the random acts perpetrated in this crazy world, kindness always works best.

 

Commander and Chief- Derrick Nnadi was a hotshot Florida State prospect a couple years back until a forgettable workout at the league Combine left his pro career in doubt. But the defensive tackle worked his ass off to overcome that blip, and now he finds himself sixty minutes away from a Super Bowl ring.

Nnadi’s hard work on the field is in keeping with the great good work he’s doing off of it. The league honored him as the Kansas City Chiefs Community MVP of the Week back in September for providing a shopping spree to the family of one of the victims of the Virginia Beach mass shooting. That’s his hometown, and it’s where his heart will always reside. He’s pretty good at dishing up these shopping sprees to school kids, having done it last summer in his adopted hometown of Kansas City as well.

“As my father says . . we don’t receive . . we give . .”

When the universe listens- Seven years ago, Georgina Laurie had just lost her husband Dennis and life no longer seemed worth living. She slipped into a depression from which it seemed she might not return.

“A year prior to that, I’d had a stroke, so my whole life completely changed and I couldn’t cope with that,” recalls Laurie. “I got really depressed, really down and I really couldn’t see there was a way forward in life for me.

It was on the night when she began thinking about the end of her life that she was able to find a new beginning. She noticed the card for a suicide prevention hotline called Samaritans by her bedside cabinet and gave them a call. She had no intention of being talked down from the ledge her life was balancing on, but that is exactly what happened. So inspired was she, that this grandmother from the UK later made the decision to become a volunteer for the organization. So it was that Georgina overheard a conversation her fellow volunteer Des McCarthy was having with someone who called into the hotline recently. Des was comforting the person on the other end of the line and the words . . well, they brought Georgina all the way back to that fateful night. And that’s when Georgina realized that Des- her mentor and fellow volunteer for the last four years- had been the voice that talked her down from that ledge once upon a time.

There are no coincidences.

 

 

 

 

The Sorryless Super Bowl Preview: LIV For Today Edition!

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So another football season is in the rear view and now we’re left to contemplate whether the Cleveland Browns should maybe try another line of work. And if you’re gonna ask me for a top five takeaways from NFL ’19, you know Imma provide . . .

1- Antonio Brown played exactly one game while grabbing more headlines than a newspaper delivery person.
2- The league uses more cameras than the British press and yet they still can’t get calls right.
3- Contrary to the popular belief that the game was going the way of flag football, defense still matters.
4- The New Orleans Saints must have done some really bad shit in their previous lives.
5- The Miami Dolphins were the most fascinating 5-11 team in NFL history. (I had to).

The New England Invitational has been put on ice as Tom Brady and Giselle shop for homes in more temperate climates and Bill Belichick contemplates yoga. We won’t be bogged down with Fill in the blank-Gates, avocado ice cream recipes or Live PD feeds of owner Robert Kraft walking out of massage parlors. This year, we get actual football!

And we get an historic match-up with the Chiefs making it back to the big game for the first time since Nixon was shopping for tape recorders; while the 49ers are looking to score their sixth Lombardi trophy and their first since Clinton was shopping for cigars. So of course, I had to pull one of my all time favorite NFL photographs: Chiefs legend Len Dawson tugging on a smoke in the locker room. That, is some old school shit right there.

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Speaking of old school, San Francisco is bringing some of that flavor with a defense that Cersei Lannister could’ve used. Kansas City will bring its master gunslinger and a posse that could have been peeled right off the pages of the old AFL, with an ability to score from the locker room.

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What’s that you say? Give us some top five trivia, Marco? N’kay . . .

-The most expensive price for a ticket to the first Super Bowl was $12. Which is about what you’ll pay for a beer at this year’s game in Miami.

-The game was originally called the AFL-NFL Championship Game. Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt coined the term Super Bowl after the Super Ball his daughter played with.

-Commissioner Pete Rozelle sketched the design for the Lombardi trophy on the back of a cocktail napkin.

-17 million Americans will call in sick next Monday.

-The Patriots have appeared the most times. The Lions/Texans/Browns/Jaguars have never appeared. And the Miami Dolphins are the only team in NFL history to complete a perfect season with a Super Bowl win. (Yep . . had to).

Of course, the game will be the thing for the small fraction of the population that doesn’t tune in simply to get drunk, bet the spread or watch commercials. So Imma dish up my prediction on how the LIV Bowl will play out. This is for entertainment purposes only, because if you place a wager based on what I write? Seek help . . imeejiately.

The league agrees to cancel the first half so they can fit in all of their musical commitments. With the extra time, the teams decide to take in a Miami Heat game. At halftime, Patrick Mahomes takes part in a contest in which he can win $1,000 dollars for each shot he makes from half-court. Twenty minutes later, the Heat hold a press conference in which they introduce the Chiefs quarterback as their new owner.

When the game finally begins, Mahomes is unable to lift his arm thanks to all that balling. As a result, the 49ers sack him twelve times on one play even though the league maximum is one sack per play. A replay review proves inconclusive so the league dials up Bill Belichick who delivers video evidence that proves San Fran should be credited with twelve sacks. After three quarters of play, the Niners lead the Chiefs 4-0 thanks to two safeties and a Travis Kelce touchdown that is overturned on account of the fact that coach Andy Reid threw the pass. It’s the most bizarre turn of events since this happened.

During the two hour concert that takes place between the third and fourth quarters, Jimmy Garoppolo is suspended after making a porn in the visitor’s suite. Joe Montana suits up and throws three touchdown passes, because he is still Joe Fucking Montana. With two minutes to go and the 49ers up 32-0, Patrick Mahomes gets the feeling back in his right arm and leads the Chiefs on a furious run. He tosses four touchdown passes in forty two seconds to close the gap to 32-28.

When San Francisco’s Robbie Gould misses a fifteen yard field goal that would have put his team up by seven with nineteen seconds to go, the team trades him back to Chicago. After a delay of game penalty pushes the Chiefs all the way back to their own one yard line with three seconds left, Twitter blows up with #fortyninereasons, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer calls it for the 49ers and NPR reports on rumors of an important game being played in South Florida.

Mahomes steps back to pass as a wave of burgundy and gold converge on him, sending him back through the tunnel and all the way to the parking lot. While simultaneously signing autographs for fans, paying the $150 parking lot fee and evading the 49ers monstrous pass rush, Mahomes flings a pass back into the stadium. The ball travels three hundred and sixteen yards and lands in the arms of Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins in the end zone for the winning touchdown as time expires. The Chiefs donate the extra point to the New York Stock Exchange.

The Vatican heralds the Chiefs three hundred and sixteen yard TD winner as proof of God’s existence. Trump tweets a pic of himself clapping with hands that appear to have been photo-shopped. Ricky Gervais blames the foreign press.

After the game Las Vegas installs the Chiefs as the prohibitive favorites to win the 2021 Super Bowl, as well as the next five Super Bowls after that. Joe Montana announces that he is coming out of retirement to become the Miami Dolphins new starting quarterback (Of course I had to!)

 

 

 

A Love Scenario For My Favorite Team

The following is a simple thank you to my beloved Miami Dolphins. For being the most relevant 5-11 squad in the history of the league. They somehow out-won the mighty Patriots down the stretch by going 5-4 after that 0-7 beginning; capped by an upset victory in the final week to knock New England off its perch. Last night may have been the end of the Patriots dynasty, and maybe I’m being a tad bit hyperbolic . . but I like to think this wonderful bunch of miscreants played a small part in the final breaths of a dynasty.

Thank you to Monika for suggesting Justin Herbert in the starring role as Miami QB. Not sure if it’ll work out this way, any of it. But who cares? All I know is that I found reason to believe inside this lost cause of a season. And while there is a long road ahead, there is a lot more hope involved than I had bargained for at the get. Sometimes, a season can be that way; it can give you something you never saw coming. Where one minute you’re throwing your arms up in disgust, and the next, you’re uttering that most magical of sporting refrains, and meaning it.

Wait till next year.

New Orleans 2024- Brian Flores sits in his makeshift office inside the New Orleans Superdome and scratches out an idea, whittling it into precise measurements as if a master carpenter. He is a craftsman of sorts, having built the foundation of a championship club from the rubble of obsolescence along with general manager Chris Grier.

It’s as if the moment Flores walked in the door, those couple decades of mediocrity that preceded him hitched a ride to someplace else. He paid scant attention to the collective shrug that accompanied his introduction as Miami’s field boss in February of 2019. And he paid little mind to the vitriol heaped on his club due to the clumsy maneuvering that led to a mass exodus of their most talented players in the name of draft capital. The overpaid suits said it was morally reprehensible that a football organization left its players in harm’s way by fielding a prohibitive skeleton crew.

Their criticism was temporarily vindicated when Flores’ Dolphins team lost his first game 59-10 to the Baltimore Ravens. It reached Chernobyl status when they began the season 0-7. The critics were only too delighted to break out their “Told You So” material, to which Flores responded with three simple words: We’re not tanking.

He was parodied for this, but he never minded that too. All he concerned himself with was drawing up a game plan that would give his fledgling outfit a fighting chance. And just as importantly, changing an organizational culture that was equal parts Caddyshack and Animal House.

Five years to the date when he was named head coach of the Miami Dolphins, he’s sixty minutes away from the Holy Grail of professional football. His opponent- the Arizona Cardinals- present myriad complications for Flores and his defense. But they’ve been up to the challenge all season, and on through January in wins over the Vegas Raiders and then, the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens.

There is irony in that Baltimore was the team Flores beat to get his squad to the Super Bowl for the first time since ’85. But he hasn’t got time to dwell on it with MVP Kyler Murray next up on the docket. Later today. About ten hours from now, to be exact, as evidenced by the bustle of doors and chatter that is making its way to his office now. His guys, come to keep their coach company.

“Hey coach,” Justin Herbert says as he sticks his head in the door whilst munching on a power bar.

“What’s up ten?” Flores says, referring to his quarterback’s number.

“We’re here to kick ass and chew bubblegum . . .” Herbert smiles.

“AND WE’RE ALL OUTTA PATIENCE!!!” The guys whoop and holler as Herbert leads them to the field. Flores grins as he moves out of his chair for the first time in several hours and stretches out before moving towards the tunnel of the North end zone. His Dolphins will be the ‘home team’ today- dressed in their dark aqua old school threads out of the time of Shula and Marino. And it’s appropriate, since the feeling is of yesterday once more.

“I can’t believe we’re actually here . .” Justyn Ross, their third year wide receiver out of Clemson says as he looks out over the field.

“Not yet JR . . .not yet,” Flores says.

A Momentary Lapse Of Season

Miami Dolphins

We learned something about ourselves inside that darkest of nights. We learned that the cause was not lost, and that it hadn’t even been missing. And once seen, it could not be unseen. It possessed us with a most magical ability. We believed in tomorrow . . .

What a difference two months makes.

Exactly two months ago in this very spot, I penned a bad romance of a love letter to my favorite team in the world, the Miami Dolphins. There was no need to read between the lines since I was as brutally honest as a Jim Bob Duggar paternity test. The Dolphins were all set to rewrite history . . in crayon, and the only reason I wasn’t doing somersaults is because I am on a strict somersault diet. But I was all chips in on a losing hand because I was under the impression that less would equal more in the long run.

A funny thing happened on the way to NFL ignominy. The Dolphins stopped sucking.

By winning their third game of the season, the Dolphins would basically have to get Tony Soprano to serve as their draft point man in order to score a top three pick right now. Say adios to quarterback Joe Burrow and defensive end Chase Young- the top studs at their respective positions. A couple more wins and not even Tony Soprano will be able to un-fuck the situation.

And guess what? I’m kinda loving the zeitgeist of these formative moments that are busy trashing the temporal sensibilities- like standings and draft positioning. Because what Brian Flores is coaching up in South Beach is a bulldog mentality that doesn’t give a blessed fuck about gutted rosters and tank jobs.

Because maybe all this worrying I was doing about getting a top name in the NFL draft was for naught. Maybe it doesn’t matter one little bit whether we draft first or fifth . . or wherever. Maybe what matters more than that is what’s going on, right now. What Brian Flores is doing with the skeleton crew of a band that started the season 0-7 but has gone 3-2 since. He isn’t winning coach of the year, but he’s damn worthy of getting someone’s vote, out of principle. It would be a fitting apology, after Flores got trashed for presiding over what many sportswriters were calling the biggest sporting abomination of all time. Which is hyperbole at its most hypocritical when you consider all the real world shit the sports world has thrown at us.

This might sound strange, but this team is the most fun I’ve had in a very long time. Because that country club mentality which had worked its insidious vines into the heart and soul of a franchise for the better part of two decades is withering just a little bit. It’s by no means dead and gone, but it’s no longer being allowed to retrench itself. Because maybe they’re figuring out that most prized possession of all; more vital than a blue ribbon prize in the NFL meat market. Maybe they’re figuring out a culture that transcends big names and splashy acquisitions.

Ask the Steelers what culture means, because they pretty much wrote the book on it. They lost their star quarterback, running back and wide receiver in one calendar year and yet they’re standing at 7-5 after beating the Browns today. The Steelers have had three head coaches in the past fifty years. In that same span of time, there have been five Popes. Enough said.

And look at those Browns, with all their big name talent- including quarterback Baker Mayfield, who oh by the way . . was the first pick in the draft a couple years ago- who are busy making vacation plans for January after falling to 5-7.  If ever there was a cautionary tale when it comes to falling in love with top picks and big names? They are it.

If I had to choose one word for this season, it would be perspective.

Lamar Jackson beat the stuffing out of us in the opener, but he’s done that to a lot of really good teams since. And it’s worth noting that thirty teams overlooked him in the draft. And okay, putting up a thirty seven burger on this Eagles team isn’t nearly as impressive as it might have seemed back when everyone- including yours truly- was penciling them in as a playoff team. But it still counts.

And so what if they’re not the worst team of all time, destined to take home the top prize for their futile efforts? And so what if they’re light years away from having a legitimate shot at knocking off guys like Mahomes and Jackson? All that really matters is their allergy to the canvas, because they refuse to lay down on it. And it’s not much, not really.

Not yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The NFL Double Issue Edition!

 

Football Players in Action

The NFL season is more than halfway cooked and the more things change, the more the Patriots still look like the favorites to fuck up a lot of Super Bowl parties come January. I mean, does anybody else see the irony here? A league that prides itself on parity has the most prolonged dynasty in sports history.

Despite the specter of that long national football nightmare moving into yet another decade, it’s been a fairly entertaining NFL season to this point. The Cleveland Browns are winning . . on TMZ.  The Oakland Raiders are actually winning on the field. The Titans, Seahawks, Steelers, Colts, Panthers and Lions have been plucky. The Packers, Cowboys, Eagles and Bills have been lucky. And the Jets? Still suck.

If sports ain’t your thing, here’s an alphabetized list of teams complete with a cocktail party anecdote or observation for each. You’re uh . . welcome?

Arizona Cardinals- Investing in semiconductors is the same difference.
Atlanta Falcons- There is a Chick-fil-A in Mercedes Benz Stadium. Chicken Jesus doesn’t do business on Sundays, and this year? Neither do the Falcons.
Baltimore Ravens- Lamar Jackson is to quarterbacking what Jimi Hendrix was to acoustic guitars.
Buffalo Bills- The fan base is known as “Bills Mafia”. They guzzle beer, smash tables and have a guy named Pinto Ron who has a condiment fetish.

Because . . sports fans!

Carolina Panthers- The peeps in South Carolina take great pride in the fact that the Panthers play in North Carolina.
Chicago Bears- True story. Bears fans traveled to Nashville once, and drank the town dry.
Cincinnati Bengals- If Kandahar ever gets an NFL team, they’re perfect.
Cleveland Browns- The NFL version of Apple TV’s “Morning Show”- flashy, big name cast with little payoff.
Dallas Cowboys- Sugar Daddy Jerry Jones, built them a $1.2 billion dollar crib (Arlington taxpayers forked over $325 million). The Boys have a grand total of three playoff wins there since 2009. Only Congress offers up a weaker bang for the buck.
Denver Broncos- Unless you live in Colorado, the Denver Broncos will never come up in casual conversation. If you live in Colorado, just use lots of four letter words.
Detroit Lions- Motown legend Marvin Gaye once tried out for the team.
Green Bay Packers- They are the only publicly owned franchise in the league.
Houston Texans- They became only the second expansion team ever to win their first game when they defeated the Cowboys in September of 2002. It remains the high point.
Indianapolis Colts- In 1983, the franchise packed their shit on Mayflower vans and left Baltimore in the middle of the night. It doesn’t get any more Paul Simon than that.

Jacksonville Jaguars- Like the car, they’re expensive and rarely worth it.
Kansas City Chiefs- They have more offensive weapons than the US Army and a weaker defense than the French Army.
Los Angeles Chargers- Most peeps don’t realize they left San Diego. And most of those peeps live in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Rams- Warren Beatty remains the coolest player to ever don a Rams uniform. And I know it was a movie, but it still counts.
Miami Dolphins- They’re not the worst team in football.
Minnesota Vikings- Unless you live in Minnesota, the Vikings will never come up in casual conversation. If you live in Minnesota, just bring the sausages, cheese curds and beer. 
New England Patriots-
 Before the Russians started rigging elections, they re-calibrated a middling football coach named Belichick and created a cyborg named Brady. The idea was to create a hatred of the red, white and blue. Those Russians are crafty.
New Orleans Saints- Charlton Heston starred as an aging Saints player in the film Number One. 
New York Giants- 
Jimmy Hoffa wouldn’t be caught dead in the Giants end zone.
New York Jets- Haven’t appeared in a Super Bowl since Joe Namath was wearing pantyhose on purpose.
Oakland Raiders- Will relocate to Las Vegas next year . .  move back to Oakland in 2030 . . relocate to Germany in 2035 . . . move back to Oakland in 2042 . . . relocate to Mars in 2050!
Philadelphia Eagles- Their former digs- Veterans Stadium- housed jail cells. And if you ever attended a game there, you understand why.
Pittsburgh Steelers- They haven’t returned to the Super Bowl since Bane blew up their fictional stadium in Dark Knight Rises. Not a coincidence.
San Francisco Forty 49ers- Joe Montana was chosen with the 82nd pick of the 1979 NFL draft. It worked out alright.
Seattle Seahawks- They aren’t the first pro football team to go by the name Seahawks. That would have been the Miami Seahawks, who did their business back in the ’40s.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- See my suggestions for Broncos and Vikings. After which, feel free to mix and match.
Tennessee Titans- The designers of their uniforms imagined Masters of the Universe having sex with Ross Department Store.
Washington Redskins- No team matches its locale so perfectly. They’re corrupt, inept and divisive as fuck. 

As for the NFL season, there’s still time for the resistance to thwart the Evil Empire. And if Sam Rothstein were to ask me for a top ten best bets to take down Darth Vader Inc., Imma go with these . . .

1- Ravens: They kicked the shit out of New England last week so they get the top spot.
2- Chiefs: They’ve got Patrick Mahomes.
3- Packers: They’ve got Aaron Rodgers.
4- Seahawks: They shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing, but they’re doing it anyway.
5- Texans: They’ve got Deshawn Watson.
6- Eagles: Because they kicked the shit out of New England in the Super Bowl . . what, five minutes ago? It seems like it. And I still love Carson Wentz, even if I think he’s got to step up big time.
7- Browns: There’s a better chance Drew Carey plays center for the Cavaliers and leads them to the playoffs, but hey . . this is a top ten and I need warm bodies.
8- Cowboys: Yes, I put them below the Browns because they piss me off and I’m not even a fan. All that talent and they can’t beat Kirk Fucking Cousins . . at home?
9- Raiders: Because Jon Gruden deserves some props from those clowns (me) who said he was a mistake. His Raiders play hard, they came together after the Antonio Brown debacle and they’re fun as hell to watch. And while I really don’t think they’ve got a chance to sustain over the rest of the season . . who wouldn’t want to see Gruden and the Raiders back in New England in January? Almost twenty years hence from the “Tuck Rule” game that began the Patriots dynasty.
10- Dolphins- Again, this is a top ten list and since I can only come up with a legitimately serious top fourish, why not Miami to put a cap on it? Because I believe they have as much a chance to win it all as the Vikings and Bills. And that might be none at all, but that just makes it equal. And I cannot and will not include the Saints on any list after how they carried on after the NFC title game last year. The same franchise that brought us Bounty Gate . . . railing on about a bad call? Nope.

Up until a couple weeks ago, Miami was destined to go down as the worst pro football team of all time. I even wrote about it, somewhat excitedly at that. Because I wasn’t so much interested in the ignominy of a possible 0-16 season, as in the idea that my team actually had a brain trust in place that wasn’t an oxymoron.

History is toast now that the Dolphins are on an actual winning streak. And maybe we blew our chance to score Joe Burrow in the draft- a kid who happens to be the latest QB du jour. And I don’t care right now, because all I know is that Brian Flores has a gutted roster playing as if it’s the Super Bowl. So let the Jets and Skins, the Bengals and maybe even the Falcons dog it out for the top spots in the draft. Because maybe my team has something they don’t have.

A plan.

 

 

 

 

 

The Audacity Of Nope

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys

If you haven’t watched the Miami Dolphins play football this season, it’s perfectly understandable because well . . . . nobody has. Four games into the 2019 season, they’ve already been mathematically eliminated from postseason play. Their record stands at 0-4, which is bad. They made the plenty good but certainly not great Baltimore Ravens look like Joe Montana’s ring bearing 49ers teams, which is worse. And in their four losses, they’ve been outscored 163-26. Which is history’s way of saying “Are you fucking kidding me?”.

In case you were wondering, and I’m not sure why you would be wondering, but okay . . . the Dolphins point differential through the first four games of the season is the worst in NFL history. If you’re playing along at home, the league was born during the W administration, as in Woodrow. Wilson. Which means that when teams were playing football with cinder-blocks and no helmet whilst their head coaches pointed a gun at ’em for motivation, the worst team was still coming up bigger than these Fins.

So yeah, my boys are a lost cause on the level of a pair of Isotoners gifted to Johnny Cochrane. And you know what? That is plenty fine with me, because as Jimmy Stewart is my witness, lost causes really are the only ones worth fighting for in this world. And don’t take my word for it, here’s Jimmy to provide . . .

Alls I know is, my Dolphins are relevant for the first time since Dick Cheney’s twenty eighth heart attack (That would be 2008). It would be the last time a team from the AFC East not named the New England Patriots won the division. Since then, my team has gone through ten quarterbacks, six head coaches and a handful of uniform changes.

Fast forward to present day and the Dolphins are relevant again. Problem is, it’s in the same way a Trump tweet or Ebola is relevant. Because once the shit gets loosed into our cranium or bloodstream, all manner of zombie apocalypse prevails. And the Dolphins are fifty three dead men walking . . no, marching. Loudly. Right onto the four lane highway those horsemen from the law firm Pestilence, War, Famine and Death are busy crunching their radials on whilst blue-tooth deep in negotiations with God and Lucifer.

Pro football experts are shouting mighty daggers into the Dolphins organization for tanking a season so obviously. Welp, I guess these geniuses didn’t watch the final season of Game of Thrones. Because those fuckers had WAY more talent and money going on than the Dolphins do.

And yes, the results are uglier than Gordon Ramsey in traffic. But it’s not like it ain’t been done before. Once upon a time, teams like the Cubs and Astros gutted their roster and started from the bottom. And it paid off with titles in both instances. In basketball, the 76ers took half a decade off during “The Process” in order to compile high draft picks in the hopes of fielding a winning team and now they’re one of the favorites to win it all. And the Browns transformed losing into the kind of art form that would’ve inspired Andy Warhol to buy them. And while they ain’t won jack yet, their team is interesting as hell with a punchers chance to do some real damage this season.

Optically, the dynamic blows. Because to charge major league money to the fans whilst rolling out a minor league product is certainly not good business practice. Last week’s game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami was played to a half empty stadium, which shocked the hell out of me because I was wondering what in the hell was wrong with the half that showed up.

So the Dolphins will take a hit- both in the sports columns and in their bottom line. And it’s the latter that will keep this tanking expedition from going on indefinitely, because billionaires like Stephen Ross ain’t made their money by mistake. I figure a year, maybe two of really putrid football will result in enough draft pick sustenance to build a solid foundation. And yes they have to hit on their picks, as well as be smart with the free agent acquisitions, but to my way of thinking, it’s a chance worth taking.

I’ll take breaking bad over plain old mediocre every day of the week and for sixty minutes every Sunday. Because over the last eight seasons, the Dolphins are 66-66 with exactly nothing to show for it. There is nothing worse than mediocrity, and that includes a possible 0-16 campaign.

I’m done with asshats like Jeff Ireland running things into the ground and then skipping town for greener pastures. I’m sick and tired of clowns like Jay Cutler receiving a ten million dollar retirement package to achieve absolutely nothing. And I absolutely cannot stand the country club atmosphere that has held sway over the organization since Dan Marino stopped throwing footballs in anger.

Several weeks ago, when it became clear that the Dolphins mission was to suck balls, several prominent Dolphins players got on the phone with their agents and told them they wanted out. And that’s when I realized something was very different about the current brain trust. Because instead of sweet talking these guys back with drinks at the Clevelander and a cushy bonus . . they traded them. The message was clear as day.

You’re in or you’re out. No more in the middle.

It’s uncomfortable sure, but that signals growth. Change. Difference. And I could kiss Brian Flores and Chris Grier for having the cojones to undertake a strategy that might end up costing them their jobs. I hope it doesn’t, because they’re good football men who give a damn and I want to see them hoisting some hardware for all the shit they’re gonna be put through.

If things work out, the Dolphins’s fortunes should start looking up right around the time Tom Brady and the Patriots are decommissioned by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. And so I’m rooting for my lost cause of a football team . . to suck mightily. For now. Because I’m done with the middle. In an all or nothing NFL world, I’m willing to take the latter for now. Because it’s a chance, which is something we haven’t had since Bill Clinton was installing a strippers pole in the Oval Office. And if this tanking strategy doesn’t work, the Dolphins can always dial up Pat Riley, who’ll be cooling his heels in retirement down in the Keys by then. And so what if he doesn’t know a lick about football.

He’d be perfect.

Damn Patriots

I was talking to a friend after the AB circus was cancelled in Oakland, leaving the deranged diva as the most toxic free agent since Kim Kardashian filed for divorce five minutes after marrying some NBA player.

“As long as Brown doesn’t sign with the Patriots, I’m good,” I joked.

“Dude . . Brown just signed with the Patriots . . ” My friend replied.

Of fucking course he did.

If there was any debate as to the most reviled franchise in professional sports, the New England Patriots just won it, again. Seriously . . gimme a more hated group than the boys from the 508. And no, ISIS doesn’t count.

Once upon a time, my beloved New York Yankees held that title with a seemingly eternal grip. In a swath of history that began with the Murderers Row lineup of 1927 and plowed through war torn lineups in the ’40’s, the golden age of baseball in the ’50’s and expansion in the ’60’s, the Yankees remained the most recognizable symbol of enmity in sports. They were immortalized on stage and screen as Damn Yankees, harmonized in Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs. Robinson and despised by opposing fans everywhere.

They answered an eleven year championship drought- from 1964 to 1975- with a bunch of mercenaries and sons of bitches when the “Bronx Zoo” iteration won three straight pennants and two World Series titles in the late ’70’s. After which came ever more creative rivals to their most hated throne. The Los Angeles Lakers held a time share for most hated team in sports in the eighties, but Magic buffered any possibility of nuclear enmity. The Dallas Cowboys took up Mickey’s mantle in the ’90’s, but not for long enough a time to breach the gap.

The Russian hockey team was hated whenever the Winter Olympics came calling, but that was a matter of Stalin and Sputnik more than sport. The Edmonton Oilers were hated until Gretkzy was traded to America, after which all was forgiven. The Mets moved out of the Yankees basement in the mid eighties and became a renegade team of hate-worthiness, but their hard partying ways derailed any chance of a long term reign.

By the time the James Gang Miami Heat went Banksy on the Association in 2010, it was too late. The Yankees had already lost their Evil Empire to the New England Patriots. And it wasn’t even close.

The nexus of this changing of the guard came in the fall and winter of 2001-2002. The Yankees were at the height of their villainy entering a campaign in which they had added ace pitcher Mike Mussina from the rival Baltimore Orioles to a team that was favored to win a fourth straight title. When September 11th happened, it muted the national hatred for the pinstripes. Some fans even forged a temporary alliance with the Yanks on account of a city’s gaping wound. When the Yankees lost the World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks, it signaled both the end of a dynasty as well as their title as the most hated team in sports.

We just didn’t know it yet.

In February of 2002, the Patriots upset the heavily favored Rams in Super Bowl 36. To that point, Bill Belichick had been a middling disappointment as head coach and Tom Brady was a little known backup QB turned starter. The irony is that the Patriots shouldn’t have even made it to the Super Bowl that year, but for the “Tuck Rule Game” in which a Tom Brady fumble was ruled . . get this, an incomplete pass. Oh, and the team they beat in that infamous game? Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders. You really cannot make this shit up.

Fast forward seventeen years and the Patriots just screwed Gruden and the Raiders again with their signing of Antonio Brown. Unlike that first Super Bowl victory, the Patriots are no longer a feel good story. They have presided over an unprecedented run of success and scandal in the time since, collecting 6 Super Bowl titles, 9 Conference titles 16 division titles and more -Gates than the poshest neighborhood in Hollywood.

So now the most hated team has the most hated player. It’s the sporting equivalent of the Manson family adopting Pennywise. And okay yes . . Tom Brady is probably going to start acting his age this season and the Patriots can’t possibly make it back to the Super Bowl again and oh wait . . hold on I’ve got a phone call. Hey! It’s me calling, from this time last year!

Hey what’s up? Oh really, I said the same shit this time last year? 

Umm . . . never mind.

It doesn’t seem possible that a team birthed by monarch butterflies on a farm (I read it on the dark web) . . a team that once wore uniforms straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting . . a team that calls itself Patriots, could elicit the sort of rage my Yankees once took for granted.

It’s gotten so bad that after my pal Big Papi’s Orioles were basically eliminated from postseason play back in June, he told me he would be rooting for my Yankees to win it all. To which I replied with “Fuck you,”

I wonder if Antonio Brown plays baseball.