Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

Should You Root For The Dolphins To Be The Worst Team Ever?

Photo: Lynne Sladky (AP)

After two games, the Miami Dolphins are, well, you know. Everyone knows. After two weeks, everybody knows. Everybody can smell it.

But when one is confronted with the hilariously obvious, the next step is to examine one’s own reaction to that realization. Namely, whether or not it’s okay to be happy about it.

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We exempt the 318 remaining Dolphins fans here, because most Dolphin fans say “I’ve had enough, and I’m never watching again,” the traditional non-binding shriek that fades into the ether when they start winning again, and is denied vehemently when the Dolphins play in Super Bowl CXI. They are allowed their zeal in defense of the indefensible because in this instance and this instance alone, rooting for the Dolphins when they aren’t even rooting for themselves harms nobody else ... except when they sit next to strangers in a bar and speak. That person did not ask for your bug-eyed delusions.

But for everyone else watching this potentially historic paint-factory fire, it is already the time to ask, “How committed are you to these Dolphins as the worst team ever deliberately foisted upon the nation? How much schadenfreude is permissible before it becomes gratuitous?”

Well, for that, we need to establish some ground rules first, starting with this: Expansion teams don’t count. They even get a two-year grace period because starting from zero means some time spent hovering around zero. Plus, we have to eliminate the scourge of recency bias, which is to say that the Dolphins might look like the worst team ever just because they have chosen an organizational strategy to be the worst team ever, but are doing it now, while our memories are fresh.

But we’re not quite asking if they are the worst team ever; they will be if they maintain their current pace and end up with a point differential of minus-736, but we are willing to let a few more games play out before we commit to that as a useful statistic. We’re asking if you should want them to be, and implied in that question is the amount of time you should spend wanting that.

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For instance, the NFL league office should want that, if only to keep people’s minds off the nation’s continued unhappiness with its officials and the Nepali-language rule book they attempt to interpret. The other underachieving/quarterback-injured/non-covering teams’ fans should use the Dolphins as the glass-half-full crash-test dummy—you know, the “at least we’re not THOSE pigs” argument.

It would also forever put to an end the tedious bleats of those fans who swear their team is the worst. Nothing would be more satisfying than to tell a professional sniveler, “Uhh, 2019 Dolphins. Now stop speaking. You have nothing more to say.” And then drink his beer and leave.

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Locally, the Miami Marlins, Florida Panthers, Miami Heat, Florida International University, and Inter Beckham FC can use the Dolphins as cautionary tales for their players and season ticket holders. And Miami’s still-vibrant army of nonagenarians can say, “Hell, son, I ‘member the Miami Seahawks in 1946 in the old All-America Football Conference. Went 3-11, two games got hurricaned out, then they up and died at the end of the year and got replaced by a team that was worse. Beat that.”

(Now comes the paragraph insisted upon by Comrade Petchesky in which I make the case against this proposition out of a sense of “fairness.”)

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Of course, you might not give a 481st of a hot damn about the Dolphins even at their God-awful worst because you have better things to do with your Sundays and your life in general. Lots of teams start 0-2 with a fusillade of bullets, so there’s no reason to get all giddy this early. It’s eight quarters out of 64, and there’s plenty of time to nerd out on other stuff—no reason to care at all. Of course, if you didn’t care, you wouldn’t be reading this site to begin with, so for purposes of our little chat, you don’t even exist.

(So ends the required paragraph, allowing me to tell Comrade Petchesky to pound salt face-first.)

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Most NFL fans probably won’t get behind jumping on top of the Dolphins without at least another three or four weeks of savage beatings because, well, because the Dolphins have been militantly nondescript since Dan Marino retired. They’ve made the playoffs twice since 2001 (the glorious Jay Fiedler era) and their average record since then is “Jeff Fisher.” The Dolphins simply don’t cast a shadow. To be sure, they’re not the only NFL team like that, and if there were relegation, half the league would be members of Conference USA.

So maybe being utterly execrable is the thing for us all to want, including the remaining Dolphins die-easys. We remember epochally hideous as much as we do spectacularly triumphant. We remember the 2017 Cleveland Browns. We remember the 2008 Detroit Lions. A few of us even remember the 1982 Baltimore Colts, who went 0-8-1 and buggered off to Indianapolis two years later. And we’re not even saying they should stink for the No. 1 pick in the draft—we’re talking stinking for stinking’s sake. To make history in an era when everyone hates history.

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Maybe the Dolphins just owe the nation the worst season ever. Not just 0-16, but 0-16 by five touchdowns per game. Not just five touchdowns per game, but with players issuing trade demands on the field as they refuse to block or tackle opponents. And not just trade demands on the fly, but with head coach Brian Flores being unfairly condemned for losing and not losing enough at the same time. A season for the age, the age being the one in which losses are considered good things, and driving and backing over roadkill repeatedly is considered “debate.”

In summation, hell yes it’s perfectly acceptable and even the height of hipster cool to root for the Dolphins to stink beyond the resistance of even the most devoted tar-spreading roofer’s nose. Root for the spreads in their games to rise continuously from seven (Baltimore) to 18 (New England) to 21 (Dallas this week, and it’s still rising) and to shatter the all-time record of 26.5 by Week 7 against Buffalo, and for the Dolphins to cover none of them. Let’s see if they can be so bad that they kill football, just as a science experiment.

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After all, the competition committee can use the cover.


Ray Ratto had a terrible upbringing so even though he never used his 4-year-old’s lemonade stand as a front for his own publicity needs, he still sees Chip Kelly as the logical interim choice for the Dolphins.

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