For Dolphins greats Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas, think of Sunday’s Honor Roll induction as a reward for what at times must have seemed like careers of unending misery.
My mental snapshot of the two defensive stalwarts, friends and brothers in law is taken from yet another losing postgame lockerroom, with Taylor seated over there, slumped, a white towel draped over his shaved head, and Thomas about 10 paces away, eye-black still on, half angry and half fighting tears.
Sunday, they’ll both be grinning like Joe Biden in a vice-presidential debate.
That’s the thing about retirement. The losses stop. But I did the math, and these two endured a lot of them. Imagine how many more if not for their own heroics?
Taylor’s career record as a Dolphin was 105-111 — including what few playoffs there were. Thomas’ was 100-99. The last eight years of their era were bereft of any playoffs. Since 2004 the record was 33-63 for Taylor, and 20-44 for Thomas.
Yet they excelled in the mediocrity or worse that surrounded them.
And Sunday they become the first Honor Roll inductees from what I would call the franchise’s current (post-Dan Marino) era, considering both arrived as the Marino years were ebbing.
Through no fault of their own fate gave neither man even a sniff of a Super Bowl.
Sunday they’ll have the consolation of franchise immortality, and appreciation.
Those smiles will have been earned, indeed.• Stephen Weiss’ overtime goal lifted the Panthers over the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Saturday night in Florida’s regular-season opener. (Sorry. Just imagining how it might have been if the NHL lockout wasn’t dragging on and on).
• American men’s soccer team trained in Miami this week for its critical World Cup qualifying matches Friday in the Caribbean against Antigua and Barbuda, a 2-1 victory. I’m not sure who either Antigua or Barbuda were, but there was no way those two guys were going to beat the U.S.
• Yankees advanced to ALCS after benching slumping Alex Rodriguez. Team won behind strong pitching from C.C. Sabathia, who dominated the O’s despite it later being determined a family of four had been living inside his baggy uniform pants.
• The more time passes the more it seems Jeffrey Loria will stick with manager Ozzie Guillen. Marlins fans still trying to decide dif that’s good news or not.
• Penn State pedophile Jerry Sandusky, 68, was sentenced to at least 30 years for sexually abusing 10 boys. Dear Jerry: When you finally are released at age 98 in 2042, there’ll be an angry mob waiting outside the prison to beat the crap out of you.
• College football’s first Bowl Championship Series standings will be released Sunday. The teams ranked Nos. 1-2 and their fans love the BCS. Everybody else, not so much.
• Heat star Dwyane Wade is featured in a new NBA video explaining what “flopping” is. Can’t say I’m surprised. Even in interviews, Wade is known to theatrically fall down if he doesn’t like a question.
• It was Midnight Madness (or down here closer to Midnight Mildness) as UM men’s basketball team opened practice. Beforehand coach Jim Larranaga conducted a fantasy camp for men ages 35 and older where, for $2,500, Larranaga would tell the wealthy campers how impressed he was by their mad skills.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. missing two “Chase for the Cup” races with a concussion ruins his chances to be in the hunt for the season crown when the season ends Nov. 18 at Homestead. Junior’s legion of fans are incredulous that NASCAR won’t pause its playoffs a few weeks to let him heal.
• For those who didn’t think anything could get lower TV ratings than a WNBA Finals, I bring you a WNBA Finals between the Indiana Fever and Minnesota Lynx!
• The Jets choice of Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow for a quarterback is like you wanting a safer neighborhood and having to decide between Beirut or Fallujah.
• That reminds me. Chiefs fans were under fire for cheering the injury to QB Matt Cassel. Um, do they not know that their backup is Brady Quinn?
• NFL commissioner Roger Goodell surprised no one by upholding his own Saints Bountygate penalties. Now Jonathan Vilma in an appeal is asking the court to recuse Goodell for bias and partiality. You think it’s time to break it to Vilma that he isn’t going to win this fight?
• Lawrence Taylor jokingly suggested sex might be good for whatever ails Tebow. Dear Larry: Maybe a man who once admitted to relations with an underage prostitute should avoid sex jokes.
• Al Jefferson of the Utah Jazz paid $23,287 for an oversized custom-made bed. Seriously? If I’m spending 23K on a bed it had better come with a supermodel under the covers.
• Pete Rose said he does not think Derek Jeter will break his all-time hits record. Wonder what kind of odds Pete is laying?
• St. Thomas Aquinas High lost a second football game. Didn’t they used to lose about two games a decade when George Smith was coach? I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin.’
• Parting thought: Ohio State freshman QB Cardale Jones said on Twitter, “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play football, we ain’t come to play school, classes are pointless.” Question: Is an idiot who comes out against education able to see the irony in that?
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