When the commercial for "Perfectville" came out during the New England Patriots' undefeated run two years ago, I really began to understand the meaning of being a Miami Dolphin fan and treasuring what might be tied one day but never broken.
The Perfect Season.
Being a Miami Dolphin fan comes with rollercoaster twists and turns that could only make a fan LOVE their team through all the ups, and still wear the turquoise and orange with pride, throughout the downs.
The experience is way more than the perfect season, though.
The Orange Bowl had a lot to do with the teams' best years, because it had an electric atmosphere on game days like only a south Florida afternoon can bring. Heat, humidity, a hyped crowd, a well-coached Shula-inspired team, and usually a crowd of 70,000 white hankie waving Dol-fanatics singing the team's theme song.
Ask Eric Dickerson, OJ Simpson, Mike Singletary, plus any number of the best players from the 70s and 80s, and they will all say the Orange Bowl was one of the loudest places in the league to play.
Being a fan of the Dolphins in the early years meant riding on my Dad's shoulders through the turnstiles to cheer them on. Following their perfect season they were the best team in the US, and were on the way to their third consecutive Super Bowl.
During that same season in 1973, I realized how much I enjoyed the game when I was denied the opportunity to see the Dolphins vs. the San Francisco 49ers, as it was my brother's turn to see a game.
I wasn't mad at anyone, I just wanted to go and cheer for MY team (and a real-life dolphin named FLIPPER in the east end zone fish tank).
One of the leading guards for the running attack on the team usually ran a summer camp for kids at Florida Memorial College in North Dade County.
His name was Larry Little. My father worked a separate camp at the same college during the same time and some kind of way lead me to meet Mr. Little.
The experience was HUGE. An all-pro, Super Bowl ring-wearing member of the 1972 Dolphins spoke to me and shook my hand.
I think heaven is the best word to describe how I felt. I LOVE my team.
Beating the New York Jets always cemented my feelings about the Dolphins. That game always brought out the fans who wanted to be Dolphin fans but felt loyal to New York because they had moved from there. Pick one!
The Dolphins were always ready for the BIG game. Another plus.
Everybody may remember the Chicago Bears Monday Night game in 1985 that kept the Bears from becoming the second undefeated team in the NFL; One of the greatest nights in Miami Dolphins' football history.
I loved the 4 p.m. games just as much.
Fans wearing radio headsets, listening to Rick Weaver on WIOD getting ready for the play-by-play and setting up the game by 3:30 p.m.
The Rams coming in from the Los Angeles pacific ocean air would be stymied by the Miami Heat by the second quarter, then a rainstorm for five minutes to further damage the Eric Dickerson-led running attack.
Finally, the glare of the sunset night after the Dolphins were well ahead and the fans would hit the stairwell for the long walk to the streets, where your car was parked in the local neighborhoods.
As much as people complain about the area, Sunday afternoons were made for these moments.
The Miami Dolphins convinced me and many other fans to embrace these same moments and turn them into lifelong memories, which I can share with others now that my father has passed away.
It is always a blessing to go to a game.
To know Miami would always give a great performance, minus three or four games I can vividly remember, was the part that sold me to becoming the lifelong fan I have become.
Miami has a solid winning record against most teams in the history of the NFL. Miami fans feel like winners and, at the end of the day, that's what the game is all about.
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