The Miami Dolphins remain the only team in the history of the National Football League to achieve a perfect season and won back to back Super Bowls in the early 1970s. As a college student at the University of South Florida and a resident of the Miami area, I felt intense enthusiasm for this winning atmosphere of my home state team at the time. Upon graduation in the mid 1970s, I began a major commitment to Dolphin football as a season ticket holder for over 35 years.
During this winning era of the 1970s, the Orange Bowl rocked as Don Shula coaching brilliance continued to inspire Dolphin relevance in my life as I reveled in the home field atmosphere of playoff bound Dolphin football. In the 1980s and 1990s the “gunslinging” presence of Dan Marino as Fins quarterback captured my interest as the Dolphins continued to stay very competitive each season. Enjoying the closer to home, new venue of Joe Robbie stadium at that time, my emotional investment in these Fins team heroes would only grow with time.
As the 21st century millennium proceeded, however, I witnessed radical differences in the team direction. While Dolphin football continued to consume my attention, Marino and Shula had retired. The winning atmosphere no longer seemed the same as the team began to struggle with questionable quarterback decisions, ineffective coaching hires combined with an increasingly hostile fan atmosphere in the 1:00 pm., oppressive heat of South Florida on football Sundays.
Yet I “hung in” there for the following decade and continued to attend every home game now with my father in law in hope that the glory days of Dolphin football would return. From 2007-2016, however, the team would achieve a winning percentage of only 44% (81-89) and make the playoffs only two times. Negative thoughts about this team began to enter my mind as I began to question whether it made sense to lock myself in every Sunday for a mediocre team product? Sadly, my days of live Dolphins football would abruptly end when I retired from teaching to enter a more frugal and less regimented lifestyle in retirement.
Last week, I relived my passion for Dolphin football as I attended a Dan Marino speech with hundreds of Fins fans at the $500,000 million, renovated Hard Rock Stadium. On a positive note, I enjoyed the content of Dan’s brief speech as he ignited the crowd with memories of past Dolphins winning glory foretelling optimistic prospects of the team’s future. Yet a brief look around at the corporate glitter of the new arena brought notice to me that a new plan of marketing beyond nostalgia would be needed to attract this high energy, selfie generation of younger Dolphin fanatics.
Following Dan’s speech, announcements were made about the available ticket plans for the upcoming season. With the new stadium renovations, all game attendees for the first time could now sit in air conditioned comfort. They also would have the option to select various levels of yearly seating/entertainment ranging from $600.00 for end zone placement up to over $75,000 for four person, living room boxes. All fans could continue to proudly sing the Dolphin Fight song and dance spiritedly before game time with the Dolphin Cheerleaders while VIP social privileges now included Fins Night Out , Game Day Brunch, and Post Game Field Day.
As a football diehard, I realize the “bottom line” of success for this legendary franchise will best be measured as they win more games and consistently make the playoffs. Team ownership has drastically improved the environment for watching the team play while a young, new coach, Adam Gase, brings his past winning reputation to this city. As the stadium fills each week, stay focused on the game, silence your boos, cheer loudly and realize your commitment in the eyes of each player provides a remaining key ingredient to restore the winning spirit of Dan Marino hometown glory. “Fins Up” fans; I certainly hope so.