Mar 8, 2012

Why I Want Peyton Manning to Sign with Miami

I hate the Miami Dolphins.  I have never been shy to admit this.  I'm not exactly sure what created this pure hatred in my sports heart.  I think it was a combination of the fact that, growing up in South Florida, I was inundated with Dolphins coverage.  I had adopted the Cowboys as my NFL team of choice.  But, down in West Palm Beach (or Miami Jr., as I sometimes think of it), it was assumed that everyone was a Dol-Fan.  The newspapers would have page after page breaking down every play.  The news stations would spend four of their five minutes on sports talking about Miami teams.  News on other teams was usually limited to a paragraph on the "team by team capsule" page.  [Please keep in mind this was before ESPN owned all the sports leagues and Al Gore invented the interwebs.]  As a result, I grew to despise the Miami franchises.  The Dolphins and Hurricanes are both my least favorite teams in their respective leagues.  Since there was no Miami baseball team at the time, I turned my hatred to the Atlanta Braves - although over time I have learned to hate the Marlins as well.  And, thanks to LeBron and the rest, I have firmly placed the Heat in the Hate Zone.

My hatred for the Dolphins has only grown over the years.  As I have aged, I have realized some of my team-related anger is misplaced.  I have even found myself having somewhat fond feelings for teams that I used to loathe.  I really admire the way that some teams (Packers, Steelers) do business - something I didn't care about when I was 10, but appreciate now.  But the Dolphins have never received that mercy from me.  There are several reasons why.  First, the 1972 Dolphins are the most obnoxious single team in NFL history.  Some people think it is great how this one team continues to celebrate their perfect season.  Each year I root harder for another team to go 19-0 just to shut them up.  Second, Dolphins fans are on par with Gator fans for annoying behavior.  Back when the Dolphins started 10-2 before tanking December and missing the playoffs, Miami fans would crow and hoot about their team.  Then they quietly would disappear as their team did.  Now the Dolphins start every year 2-10 and then catch fire in December.  These same fans are eerily quiet for three months and then start yapping about how they are going to be unstoppable next year.  It gets old.  [Yes, I am perfectly aware that I am beyond biased.]  Third, Miami fans are some of the worst, more sports ignorant, fair weather fans in the world.  All you need to know is this: the Heat failed to sell out NBA Finals games when they stole their title.  How in the world do you have a non-sellout final game?!?  Fourth, the Heat are in Miami.  There is a major crossover of fan bases.  Enough for me.

That was all to give you a little history why I will make this next statement.  I desperately hope that Peyton Manning signs with Miami.  This is not because I think the Dolphins have suffered long enough.  I am not hoping he turns the franchise around.  I want him to sign with the Dolphins because I think that Manning, more than perhaps any other player in history, is the perfect athlete to increase and lengthen the agony of the Miami Dolphins.  I think that he can drag out their misery for another few years.  There also is a good chance that signing him will hurt the team longer than his career.  I'm all for that.  Here are some specific reasons why I feel this way.

1. Manning Can't Finish - From his days at Tennessee to his time in Indy, Manning has proven that he cannot finish.  He can run up 14-0 records, set passing marks score 50 points a game.  But, when it counts, he gets the yips and watches someone else lift the trophy.  He never won the Heisman - despite being the most dominant college player for four years.  He never won the National Championship - the Volunteers won after he left.  Even though the Colts frequently were the number one seed with a bye week, Manning only won one Super Bowl.  And that year the NFC put up the Bears, the equivalent of the Republican party running John McCain against Obama.  It reminds me of another great quarterback - Dan Marino.  See?  It's perfect.

2. Manning And the Florida Heat - I don't mean the super-obnoxious NBA franchise.  I am referring to the South Florida heat.  For the last fourteen years, Peyton Manning has played at least half his games in a climate controlled dome with a perfectly constructed field.  He has never had to deal with playing the majority of his games outside in the burning hot Florida sun.  Some would argue that Manning has done well in his trips to Florida - against the Gators, Dolphins, and Jaguars.  Manning was 0-4 against the Gators.  He is 14-5 against the Jaguars (okay, bad example), 5-7 against the Dolphins, and 2-0 against the Bucs.  However, even a positive record in Florida is different than playing there for the majority of your games, practicing there, going through summer training camps in the blistering, surface of the sun heat.  Throw in the unstable weather, the rain, the mud, the poor fields.  Should be great.

3. Manning and the Miami Heat - LeBron James and the Heat have said that Manning should come to Miami.  That alone is a bad omen.

4. Manning is Bound to Disappoint Physically - I don't care how well that Manning says he is playing. He has had three neck surgeries in the last eighteen months.  He is 36.  He is one of the most prepared and disciplined players in NFL history.  But that doesn't mean a whole lot when your body gives out on you.  It is only a matter of time.  Even if he makes it through one year or two years, this is not a long term decision physically.

5. Derails Long Term Planning - Everyone that assesses the NFL draft talks about how deep this draft is for quarterbacks.  The Dolphins have not had a strong quarterback since Dan Marino.  They have constantly been bringing in retreads, long shots, and big whiffs.  What they need to do is start from scratch and get someone they can build a franchise on.  Instead they are foregoing that in a deep draft and going all in for the immediate.  The really goofy things is that no one believes the Dolphins are one player from a title.  So throwing all in on Manning could cost Miami for years.  Awesome.

6. Brady/Eli Factor - Both Tom Brady and Eli Manning are tired of always hearing that Peyton Manning is the best quarterback around.  So both of those guys perform to their absolute peak when playing Peyton.  Now Brady will be playing Peyton twice a year.  As if the Patriots didn't already love beating down the Dolphins as frequently as possible, imagine their glee when they get to do it with number 18 at the helm.

7. Poetic Justice - The Dolphins have been defined in many ways by the amazing play and failure to close of Dan Marino.  Now they are turning to another quarterback that fits that category.  The Dolphins for the last fifteen years have been marked by streaky play.  They either start off strong out the gate and then stumble at the end or they suck tailpipe for three months and then do great at the end.  Now they are picking up a quarterback who has made a career out of that behavior.  The Dolphins are a franchise whose best days are behind them and who are living off past successes.  Well, you know.  It just makes sense.

So that is my completely unbiased reasoning for why I hope Peyton Manning decides to take his receding talents to South Beach.  In short, I hope that he goes there to give the Dolphins hope, only to take it away - thereby crushing the spirit of all Dolfans everywhere.  If that is hateful, so be it.  That's sports.  Meanwhile, I - like all Jaguar fans - will watch Tim Tebow perform minor miracles semi-consistently to a rabid and sold out stadium and wonder why oh why my team passed on him in favor of some no name defensive lineman.  All sports fans carry some baggage.  I hope the Dolphins' will include a past-his-prime Peyton Manning.

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