It is difficult to see things clearly in this purgatory. Your eyes are filled with the odd combination of hope and mistrust. A man betrays a woman for a decade, she’ll be armed with skepticism when he shows up with flowers and chocolates promising yet again to change. But here’s the thing: Dolphin fans want so badly to believe in this kind of romance, which made last week feel like wowing and wooing despite all the baggage and scars, and now anyone who cares about this team is stuck between wanting to think things are fixed and not trusting the people doing the fixing.
Everyone loves hope, though no one more than the hopeless, so South Florida rewarded itself last week with a big burst of noisy and understandable joy. For one day at least, we won football, won free agency, won period, and it felt good to feel like winners, even if it was the wrong month for it. Here in the land of hangovers and foreclosures, we throw the big party first and ask the big questions later. So as Miami made it rain free agent millions, clapping and joyous, feeling reckless and high, it was hard to hear above the party favors and night-club din the lonely voices asking, “Um, what did we just do here?”
What the heck do you mean, “What did we just do here?” We just won the first day of free agency, that’s what we just bleeping did here, you jerk. Got one of the league’s fastest receivers at the team’s weakest position. Stole the young and menacing Ray Lewis replacement from the champions, producing not just hope but the second-best thing in sports (the surprise!).
Start of something
And we got a Wheeler guy who sent us to Google to figure out what position he played. Yeah! Another linebacker! Yeah! In your face! Wait ... what? Did we need another linebacker?
Whatever. It felt like the start of something, a hope transfusion, a burst of fresh air and sunshine in a room filled with a decade of dark and damp. Never mind that only the bad teams ever win the first day of free agency. Never mind that all the good teams stayed out of football’s most expensive day and waited for the frenzied desperation to dilute. Just turn up that feel-good music, baby. #YOLO. We sang “I’m in Miami bitch” as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady LMFAO’ed. We popped some bottles and free-agent ecstasy. We’ll worry about the bills later without worrying about being the Bills later.
The transaction seems to have usurped the action in sports because the promise of tomorrow can feel so much better than your team’s today, and the Dolphins won Transaction Day in America’s most popular sport. Purchasing hope will captivate a fan base enough to ignore that Redskins owner Daniel Synder has won this kind of day for a decade without winning much of anything else. It is instructive that the last time South Florida felt this way, at once excited but skeptical, was about ... the Marlins. But quit urinating on the parade, killjoy. Last time we felt this way before the Marlins was LeBron James, and that worked out OK.
We don’t know
In football especially, talent evaluation is so subjective we really don’t have any idea if the Dolphins got better last week. We know they got different and younger. But better? It is impossible to know. And it is worth pointing out that all these exciting, new solutions came in just as all the expensive, old alleged solutions were leaving. If you distrust, it was like General Manager Jeff Ireland was playing one of those street-hustler shell games, moving pieces around so fast on a table, hoping to trick you into believing it was real magic instead of a con.