On Saturday’s CBS telecast of the Miami Dolphins’ preseason game against the Buccaneers, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee made an appearance in the broadcast booth and announced that the Dolphins will honor the Florida Gators’ 2008 national championship when the Denver Broncos come to town on Oct. 23.
Third-string quarterback Tim Tebow will reunite with former teammate and Dolphins rookie Mike Pouncey for the matinee while over 20 other members of the championship team, including former head coach Urban Meyer, are slated to show up.
So what’s the problem with the Dolphins attempting to boost ticket sales for one game by reeling in herds of Gator fans?
As if the Canes haven’t had enough to deal with the past couple of weeks, it’s about as big of a slap in the face as you can give the hometown college football program—the one with whom you not only share a stadium but also a majority of your fans.
The decision received severe backlash from Miami sports fans the second the news hit, from the Canesport and Canes Time message boards to the social media outlets of Facebook and Twitter.
Dee responded to the local criticism, essentially explaining that the Broncos-Dolphins game would’ve otherwise been a challenge to sell out. The Broncos are a below average team that finished the 2010 season with a poor 4-12 record and aren’t exactly the best draw.
Regardless, the numerous Florida alumni in the South Florida area are sure to have made it out for Tebow’s return to the stadium where he held up the national championship trophy in January 2009. Tickets for the game would not have been nearly as difficult to sell as the Dolphins are making it appear.
There’s no reason to alienate the majority of your fans for an entire season—and potentially even longer than that—by celebrating the accomplishments of a college football program that most Miami fans consider rivals just to sell tickets for one game.
The long-term drawbacks the Dolphins may face heavily outweigh the short-term financial success they’ll enjoy.
Even worse, there’s the prospect of Sun Life Stadium transforming into a war zone with Dolphin fans battling other Dolphin fans because of their college football allegiances. We already know Florida fans will show up wearing blue and orange for the halftime festivities, but now Canes fans will certainly make their presence felt just to show the Gators who run this town.
“It will be a great time for me and Tim [Tebow], but I think they’re going to boo us,” said Pouncey to the Associated Press.
You’re damn right.
Now the primary objective for Dolphin fans on this day switches to representing their college team, whether it’s the Canes or the Gators, instead of rooting for a Dolphins victory over Denver.
Although highly unlikely with Tebow third on the Broncos’ depth chart, could you imagine if an injury or two gets him some playing time by the time Week 7 rolls around?
Are we going to have Dolphin fans cheering for Denver just because they want to see their hero for four years succeed in the NFL? Are we going to hear a roar from the crowd if Tebow rushes for a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth?
If the situation were to arise, I really hope CBS has a camera on Dee to get his immediate reaction.
Some speculate that the Dolphins are trying to get on Tebow’s good side in case he continues to stay low on Denver’s depth chart and ends up switching teams. Don’t even get me started on the catastrophe that will ensue in Miami if they bring Tebow in.
It’s a move by the Dolphins front office that’s incredibly unprecedented.
Have you ever seen the Patriots host a halftime ceremony for a Yankees World Series title because Tom Brady has been seen wearing a Yankees hat? Or did the Dodgers bring out members of the 2008 NBA champion Celtics during a seventh inning stretch after they defeated the Lakers in six just because Paul Pierce is from Inglewood?
For Dolphin fans, it’s just another questionable decision that they have to put up with from their favorite NFL franchise.
Don’t forget the drama they created this offseason when they openly interviewed Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh while Tony Sparano was still under contract. When things didn’t work out between Harbaugh and the Dolphins, they told Sparano he still had his job.
Both sides of this story have to be reported, however, and in all fairness to the Dolphins, they did first contact the University of Miami to see if they wanted to bring players of the 2001 team to honor the 10th anniversary of their last national championship, but UM declined, saying they planned on hosting their own events.
Regardless, the NFL’s Hurricane alumni are still scheduled for their annual reunion one week before the Super Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii, at the Pro Bowl.