It doesn’t sit right with me when all of the press about an NFL free agency signing mentions “too much money.”
I know, there’s a salary cap, and teams need to worry about spreading themselves too thin while calculating resource allocation. But shit, who cares about spending Stephen Ross’s money, right? That guy wants to spend MY money. Bring on wide receiver Mike Wallace! He’s really fast! I like fast things.
As Ross mulls over how to ravage Miami’s public coffers for a new roof for a stadium he bought as-is, his goon general manager El Jefe Irelend went on an heiress’s “I’ve got daddy’s black card” shopping spree. It makes sense. This dude needs results because he’s been shifting things around in the Miami Dolphins organization for five years and hasn’t had a winning record but once. In addition to adding Wallace, he signed another wide receiver, Brandon Gibson, from the Rams, tight end Dustin Keller from the Jets, and two linebackers, Dannell Ellerbe from the Ravens and Philip Wheeler from the Raiders. He also cut loose our two previous starting linebackers Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, making that part of the defense cheaper and younger.
I think Dannell Ellerbe was a really good signing. He was the best part of the Super Bowl-winning Ravens defense and that team really wanted to keep him. Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome is actually smart and has produced tangible results that aren’t composed of the bile and tears of fans. So while I like the move, it’s worth nothing that we’re forced to judge Ireland’s free-agency moves based on other GMs because Ireland’s results are so average as not to warrant an ounce of faith in his decisions. And faith is a dubious construct in a world where Missionary Matt Moore can make eight million dollars over two years just to stand around.
Let’s be clear. I still hate Jeff Ireland. He’s like an $8 grilled chicken sandwich, tongue-numbingly mediocre. But after getting $40 million in cap space before the 2013 season, he has the right to spend a bunch of it. A lot of people are damning and dooming the moves, saying things like, “There’s no winners in March” and “Mike Wallace can only run one route” and “Jeff Ireland looks great in shorts” — but I don’t want to think about any of those things. I want to be happy. Let’s be happy. Why can’t we be happy? We now have a little something extra to look forward to. So let’s all pretend it’s not going to fail miserably when Ryan Tannehill annihilates a muscle in his knee you didn’t even know existed.
It’s fascinating that so many people are obsessed with the brass tacks business of NFL football. Some guy in the bar was talking to me the other day about “getting under the cap next year.” Really, guy? Why do you and I care about the business regulations and minutiae of a billion-dollar industry that revolves around really strong people falling over? Why are we so stupid? Buy me a beer and tell me the Dolphins are going to win forever. This is what I want. Hope. Because success has become too much to ask for.
We, the forlorn suckers that comprise Dolphins fandom, want hope. Ryan Tannehill embodies our hope for hope. The bells and whistles of free agency are nice distractions, but the prayer remains in his name.
O, Tannehill, deliver us from mediocrity. Throw completions to the swift, elude, via shimmy, the weak, and stock our bare cupboard with trophies gleaming.
Nathaniel Sandler is a freelance writer and editor who also contributes to The Miami Rail, the Miami Science Museum, University of Miami Special Collections, and WLRN. He is the co-founder of the Bookleggers Library. Follow him on twitter.