I Hate Because I Love… Or Something

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The last time the Dolphins took the field for a home playoff game, it was the year 2000, Jay Fiedler was the signal caller and I was sitting in the upper deck of Pro Player Stadium, hammered on $12 beer. Lamar Smith took a hand-off and bounced to the corner of the endzone, in overtime, to give the Dolphins a playoff victory and the chance to get spanked by the Ravens in the ensuing round. They haven’t made it back to the postseason since, and because of that, my NFL fandom has been severely hampered. Allow me to explain.

I hate the Dolphins. I know, I know. Bright Orange Seats and all that. But, while I fell in love with the Marlins, there was no part of me that actually cared for the Fins. I’m a Falcons fan, and nothing could ever change that. The great thing about sports, though, is the ability to have two rooting interests: your favorite team, and anybody who plays against the team you hate.

All real sports fans have a team they wish would burn in hell. Because my dad is a Jets fan, for me, that team has always been the Dolphins. Watching Marino get blown out in the final game of his career brought me almost as much elation as being in a packed bar, with 200 other Falcons fans, for the ’98 NFC Championship game. It’s not enough to just despise a team, though. They have to also be good. Hating Marino in the playoffs is a hell of a lot more fun than hating Cleo Lemon in a meaningless game in December. When a team is historically terrible, the hate is replaced with pity. It’d be like taunting a team of wheelchair-bound, autistic 8-year olds. And that’s what post-2000 Dolphins-hating felt like.

One win. One. Freaking. Win. How the hell do you hate a team whose season slogan is “Fail. Forward. Fast.”

But yesterday, with every Brett Favre interception, every new wrinkle of that ridiculous Wildcat formation and every second that ticked off the clock, bringing the Dolphins that much closer to the division crown, my hatred was restored. By the time the clock reached zero and Miami was annointed AFC East champs, I was in full-fledged throw-shit-at-the-television angry mode. And it was awesome.

Now, with the Falcons and Dolphins both back from their vacation in Irrelevance, Idaho (at least, that’s where I imagine it would be located), my sports fandom is revved up to full throttle. It’s on Knicks-Heat mode right now. This, my friends, is fucking awesome.

There are, of course, some people I’d like to thank for this, as well:

Bill Parcells. If there’s a bigger douchebag, egomaniac, head-of-the-team football guy in all of the sport, I’d love to meet him. It was hard to hate the total incompetence that was Randy Mueller, Dave Wannstedt and Cam Cameron, but Parcells and Sparano? Totally hatable.

Chad Pennington. You sexy beast, you. You know, with all the clusterfucks the Dolphins have thrown behind center the last few years, I almost forgot what it’s like to be pissed at a quarterback for throwing perfect passes. You sir, give me the creative strength to come up with new curse words as I throw my TV remote across the room.

The Wildcat. Why is nobody completely destroying Chad Pennington when he lines up as a wide receiver? Holy shit, that’s infuriating.

Chiefs Patriots FootballBernard Pollard. When the season started, the AFC East was already decided. If any of these craptastic teams were going to make the playoffs, it was going to be as a wild card. Then, Pollard performed a minor miracle and the division was, once again, wide open. While, by the end of the year, Matt Cassell proved he’d be more than capable of leading that offense to the playoffs, those first few games–when he was still trying to figure out what the hell he was doing–were just enough to let someone else have a go at the division this year. (And, um, maybe next?) For that, the Dolphins and myself thank you, Bernard Pollard.

Brett Favre. Even though you should’ve been a Falcon, and I’ve had more than 10 years to stew over your Hall of Fame career with the Packers, I’ve never truly hated you. I don’t know if you would’ve been the same guy in Atlanta, and it wasn’t even your fault that you got shipped away. I’ve had no reason to hate you. And then you went and pulled that retirement shit last year, invaded my television, hijacked ESPN.com and eventually signed with a team whose fans are generally as obnoxious as your incessant news coverage. It was a match made in heaven. If heaven were a bar whose TVs showed only reruns of Murphy Brown with the sound cranked all the way up. How perfectly fitting then, that I got to angrily watch the Dolphins return to my shit list while angrily watching you put them there. Who the hell were you throwing to anyway? Do you realize that your team was the one in green? You suck. Go pull a Mark McGwire; take your HOF career, get off my TV and get the fuck on with your life.

There’s probably some more people I have to thank, but I’ll keep my list brief. After all, the important thing is that the Falcons have a date with the Cardinals next week and I have a team to hate for the playoffs.

Welcome back, Miami. I truly missed you.

Now go shit the bed on Sunday. I’ll be rooting for it.

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