Lose one for the Flipper

I know as a football fan in Vermont I am supposed to be hoping that the New England Patriots run the table and — including the playoffs and the Super Bowl — go 19-0. but week after week I find myself devoting all of my supernatural fan energy toward the Miami Dolphins instead, hoping against hope that somehow they can run the table in their own special way and lose every single game: That’s right, go 0-16. At the moment, they have zero wins and 11 losses.
It’s not that I dislike the Dolphins. Usually I am completely oblivious to them.Moreover, when I was a teenager living in Miami, I liked them just fine — though if I hadn’t rooted for the ‘Fins, the state would have traded me to Buffalo for a couple of used sweatbands.
I even dated briefly (very briefly) a Dolphin Doll — or a Miami Dolphins cheerleader-in-training. Actually, that implies her career track was more definitive than it probably was. Let me rephrase that: She went to high school cheerleading camps that were in some vague way affiliated with the Dolphins. She was hoping eventually to become a Dolphin cheerleader so she would never again have to date the likes of me and could instead marry a professional football player. We dated once: My father drove us to a movie and McDonald’s. What the evening lacked in romance it made up for in animal fat.
But even that stunningly awful date isn’t the reason why I am pulling for the Dolphins to lose Sunday after Sunday. Nope, the reason why I am sitting intensely at the edge of my couch when the scores roll across my television screen on Sunday afternoon is because I am a firm believer that you should never do something halfway — especially when the stakes are this high. The Dolphins have the chance to enter the record books as the worst team in the history of the world if they don’t blow it and win a game. Sure, there have been winless teams in the past (most recently, the 0-14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976). But no team has lost every contest in a 16-game season.
Let’s face it: Would anyone remember Charlie Brown’s baseball team if they ever won? If they did, they would merely be like my horrifically bad Little League team when I was in fifth grade. We were something like 2-19. I honestly can’t remember how many games we played. But I do know we lost all but two. Imagine, however, if we had trudged through that season absolutely winless. You can bet I would know today the exact number of times we stared at the scoreboard after the last out and saw that our streak was intact.
In any case, today may be the Dolphins’ toughest test if they want to reach the record books: The New York Jets. The Jets may be every bit as bad as the Dolphins, but they’ve had the misfortune of winning twice this year. Ignominy — excuse me, immortality — is no longer an option for them.
Can the Dolphins beat the Jets? Alas, I fear it’s possible. Consequently, I am hoping that in the locker room before kickoff the Dolphin coaches are talking about pride and heart. If they say one thing to their players, I hope it is this: Get out there, guys, and lose one for the Flipper.
An update: Last week I expressed my scorn for the $25,000 hot chocolate with edible gold at Manhattan’s Serendipity 3. Apparently, the restaurant was more focused on gold flakes than mouse turds. New York City health department inspectors saw some — as well as the live mouse that may have left them — and closed the joint.
(This column originally appeared in the Burlington Free Press on December 2, 2007.)

Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian is the author of nineteen books, including his forthcoming novel, The Sleepwalker. His other novels include the New York Times bestsellers Midwives, The Sandcastle Girls, The Guest Room, and The Double Bind.

One thought on “Lose one for the Flipper

  1. PrideCanComeInManyGuises says:

    “What the evening lacked in romance it made up for in animal fat.” That’s a great line, Chris!:) I must admit: I know pretty much absolutely *nothing* about football. However, after reading your inspirational column, I can certainly share your hopes for the Dolphins to keep up their losing edge. They appear to have a record of such dismal failure that I imagine they must be quite the envy of the other teams. After all, not just any team can hope to achieve such a stunning amount of un-success. I just hope their fabulous losing streak doesn’t desert them when they need it the most!

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