Few things instigate the anger of a Miami Dolphins fan—or any fan for that matter—more than listening to somebody inaccurately ramble on about some misconception about the team. They might dismiss Ronnie Brown as a bum, call Zach Thomas overrated, or rag on the 1972 team because they only played a 17-game schedule.
It gets my blood boiling faster than Chad Henne can call a check-down.
For much of the offseason I've written about the Dolphins history, from most despised figures to biggest draft busts to worst contracts. But this slideshow trumps them all. Here, we're going to dispel every misconception about this team, with unrealistic aspirations that everybody in the world will read it and never spur a misguided debate about the Dolphins again.
Also, I'm going to try something different with this slideshow. I listed eight misconceptions here, but if you have one in mind and throw it into the comments, I'll add it into the slideshow.
Let's get interactive.
Technically and theoretically, yes, Ricky Williams did quit on the Miami Dolphins when he abruptly retired before the 2004 season. He left the team in shambles and the city shell-shocked, but nobody ever looks at the fiasco from Ricky's point of view.
In two seasons with the Dolphins, Williams had recorded 775 carries—literally a mind-blowing number. Today, it might take a running back three-to-four seasons to amass such a ludicrous number. And this excludes the 313 carries Williams shouldered for the Saints in 2002.
In other words, the Miami Dolphins (specifically Dave Wannstedt) ran him into retirement.
Ricky's body was bruised, battered and decaying. How can you blame him for stepping away from the game? Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, Williams struggled with an array of personality disorders.
Had Ricky been more forthcoming and gradual about his retirement, the fan base would have cut him some slack. But because he made such a sudden and shady exit, Williams brought so much hatred upon himself. Yet, the Dolphins may truly be at fault for Ricky's premature exit.
Because Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl, he has become the poster child for great players without a ring, and by less observant critics, a choke artist. Even though Marino is arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time, most fail to see the true reason for his ring-less finger: His supporting casts were never that good.
First of all, through the duration of Marino's career (1983-1999), the Dolphins never had a stable rushing attack. While Joe Montana had Roger Craig, Jon Elway had Terrell Davis, and Troy Aikman had Emmitt Smith, Marino was stuck with an endless circuit of no-names: Andra Franklin, Woody Bennett, Tony Nathan, Lorenzo Hampton, Sammie Smith, Mark Higgs, Bernie Parmalee, Karim Abdul-Jabbar and J.J. Johnson.
Secondly, for the majority of Marino's tenure, the Dolphins generated abhorrent defenses. From 1987 to 1997, Miami's defense finished, in chronological order, 26th, 26th, 24th, 7th, 25th, 10th, 20th, 19th,16th, 17th and 26th in the league.
The list could go on forever, really. After the Marks brothers retired, Marino lacked a true No. 1 receiver. And, for much of the 90s, he had to compete with the Buffalo Bills dynasty.
Looking back, it's actually rather astounding that Marino was able to lead the Dolphins as far as he did.
At the tail-end of the 2007 season, Bill Parcells renounced his intentions to sign on with the Falcons, opting for the sunny confines of south Florida. The Dolphins had just strained through the worst season in franchise history and he was quickly hailed as a savior.
After a complete roster overhaul, Miami made a miraculous playoff run which only further illuminated Parcells' supposed football genius. However, Parcells' reign as Dolphins football czar has become a bit of a fairytale.
He dished out horrible contracts to Ernest Wilford, Jake Grove, Gibril Wilson and Reggie Torbor; drafted monumental busts Pat White, Patrick Turner and Chad Henne; and ran Jason Taylor out of town.
And then there's the time he allegedly consulted with the 49ers on their head coach search while still under contract with the Dolphins.
We should all be grateful for Parcells. He did help boost this team back into competition, but he also made a mirage of mistakes that should not go unnoticed.
Few could follow in Don Shula's footsteps without struggling to emerge from such a legendary shadow, but one man who didn't have such a problem was Jimmy Johnson. That's one of the reasons he seemed like such a picturesque hire following Shula's retirement in 1995.
Johnson was already a football legend, collecting two Super Bowl rings in five seasons with the Cowboys. He was a Miami hero stemming from his championship days with the University of Miami—and with a rather solid roster, Super Bowl rings figured to follow his arrival.
However, Johnson was stringent in his approach. Despite Dan Marino's air-it-out attributes, Johnson wanted to install a run-first scheme—and he wouldn't budge. Johnson relied on heavy doses of Karim Adbul-Jabbar to no avail and Miami never got past the Divisional Round Playoffs under his watch.
Everything is so easily said in retrospect. Today, many Dolphins fans reflect on the Wes Welker trade, cussing and dismissing it as another one of the foolish transactions the team has made over the past decade.
But most fans seem to be under the impression that Miami merely shipped Welker to New England for a second-round draft pick. It wasn't so cut and dry.
Following the 2006 season, Welker entered restricted free agency. The Dolphins slapped a second-round tender on their scrappy wide receiver, which would ultimately give him a one-year, $1.35 million contract. According to the Boston Globe, the Patriots considered signing Welker to an offer sheet that the 'Fins wouldn't be able to match, but instead opted to offer it to a second- and seventh-round draft pick. Miami accepted.
It was a deal the Dolphins could not refuse. Nobody realizes how unproductive Welker was with the Dolphins. In two seasons, he caught a combined 79 passes and one touchdown.
He was not a superstar for Miami. Their game plan did not suit his skill-set like the Patriots' has. How could the Dolphins turn down a second-round pick for a player with one touchdown in two seasons? It would be the equivalent of a team offering a second-round pick for a player like Brian Hartline (who has actually surpassed Welker's Dolphins stats already).
Just because Welker was a fan favorite and has enjoyed great success since leaving Miami does not mean it was a bad trade at the time. In fact, it was a pretty awesome deal.
For the first half of the 2000s (or however you want to refer to the decade from 2000-2010—the 00s?), the Dolphins boasted one of the league's most dominant defenses. Patrick Surtain, Sam Madison, Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor formed the nucleus of a nightmarish unit that had legendary potential.
However, things were not so bright on the other side of the ball. Even though the Dolphins lacked a great wide receiver, ran Ricky Williams into the ground and were plagued by Dave Wannstedt's head-scratching drafting and coaching maneuvers, quarterback Jay Fiedler has become the scapegoat for it all.
Granted, Miami probably could have won a Super Bowl with a higher-grade quarterback, but Fiedler is not the sole reason that the team did not fulfill those aspirations. From 2000 to 2003, he posted a 35-17 record as the team's starter, with an average quarterback rating that hovered around 80.
And on top of all of those aforementioned hindrances, the Dolphins had to compete with the Patriots right in the midst of their dynastic dominance. Ultimately, it may not have mattered who quarterbacked those Dolphins teams, the stars just weren't aligned for them to succeed.
From the moment Roger Goodell spat out the words, "With the ninth pick in the 2007 NFL draft, the Miami Dolphins select Ted Ginn," the skinny, unassuming wide receiver became a local pariah. The selection made little sense, but that's besides the point.
Ginn's Dolphins career is marred by insurmountable disappointment, dropped passes and contact avoidance. Now that he is gone, his legacy has become one of no production and no value.
But that is not the case.
After a forgettable rookie season, Ginn actually made huge progress in 2008 (which everybody forgets). He basically doubled his production, reeling in 56 receptions for 790 yards. That's a very respectable season, and Ginn was an integral part of Miami's playoff run.
Even though he fell off the map in 2009, he still managed to torch Darrelle Revis for a touchdown (which basically nobody else did that year) and single-handedly win the teams' second match-up with two kickoff returns for touchdowns.
Ginn won't be missed in Miami, that is for sure. But you have to wonder what he could have done playing alongside Brandon Marshall.
Dolphins legend Larry Little
Because Miami has meddled in mediocrity over the past decade, they have become indistinct from most of the other 32 NFL teams. While franchises like the Steelers, Packers and Cowboys continue to separate themselves with consistent success, Miami has lost its luster.
From 1970 through 1995 (Don Shula's coaching tenure), the Dolphins were one of the NFL's most dominant franchises, capturing two Super Bowl rings, four Super Bowl appearances, 12 AFC East titles, 16 playoff appearances and a 257-133 record.
So while the team struggles now, realize that was not always the case.