If it is true that misery loves company, it is also accurate that the truly miserable don’t when optimism is abundant anywhere. This is a trait particularly inherent in sports fan populations, with some trying to extinguish hope wherever it may appear.
In South Florida, they are the Dolphins Downers.
You probably know one.
Or a few.
They are the ones who will tell you it will never get better, that the Dolphins will forever be stuck in the doldrums because of some decision made by some long-gone executive more than a decade ago. They are the ones who keep telling you that every plan is destined to fail, because others did before under the same ownership, discounting the possibility that anyone can learn, grow and adapt. They are the ones who keep telling you that the new Hawaiian Hope, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, will be another Beck or Lemon, another Harrington or Culpepper, another Henne or Tannehill, another waste of time and resources — maybe not because of ability on this occasion, but fragility. They are in your mentions on Twitter whenever you post something positive or, more likely, lurking in Facebook grousing groups, where the negativity spreads as if seeded in a Russian bot farm.
Can we finally put that pessimism out to pasture?
Can we finally believe… in something?
Can we finally stop whining, and willing the worst into reality?
Somehow, in a week when the new quarterback’s number release meant more than any passing numbers that any of 20 Dolphins quarterbacks had compiled in 20 years, some fans still found a way to fret. Not all. Certainly not. Not with Tagovailoa’s jerseys ranking first and second in the NFL Shop (and wait until the throwback finally drops). Not with our Tua shirts selling briskly.
Not with memes like this, from fans of the teams in this town, who has seen more success on the basketball side and want a little in football too:
— Alejandro 🇨🇴 (@MiamiAlejandro) May 12, 2020
Not with Dolphins fans announcing on social media that they will be putting money on Tagovailoa to win Rookie of the Year, with the sports books having him in the top three, behind only Joe Burrow and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, both widely expected to star and start sooner.
But the other side?
They’re out there.
It’s not a straw man situation when you scan social media and see so many still clinging to the notion that Tua was the wrong choice because he’s too brittle. But at least that’s a rational sports argument. It’s flawed, because there’s not much historical correlation between elite quarterbacks’ collegiate injuries and their durability in the pros, but at least it’s understandable to be concerned if Tua will be available enough to fulfill his potential.
Try not to get hurt.
— Ken Celmer (@kcelmer2) May 12, 2020
It is not rational to just keep endlessly trying to find reasons to dislike him.
And this is some of what was seen on social media this week, the week that Tua officially signed with his right hand not his throwing hand, which somehow rattled some:
Thank you to @MiamiDolphins for making this dream come true for me and my family. It's in my heart to give back to the communities that have raised me. Plans are underway to start charitable outreach efforts in Hawaii, Alabama and Miami. Stay tuned, stay safe. Go fins! Blessed! https://t.co/KGyvGr6xNX
— Tua. T 🇦🇸 (@Tua) May 12, 2020
There were actual posts asking why the Dolphins didn’t wait to make him earn it, as if that’s how NFL contracts work. Throw for 4,000 yards and then you get paid.
There were actual posts asking why Tagovailoa had to announce he would be helping the places that helped raise him, instead of doing it quietly — as if setting that example of generosity wouldn’t inspire any others.
Happy Mother’s Day to a more than deserving Mother. I love you mom 💙 pic.twitter.com/HrJNb80sdZ
— Tua. T 🇦🇸 (@Tua) May 11, 2020
There were actual posts in response to the above tweet, questioning why he was spending so little on his mother, or why he would spend so much.
Lost half its value the second he drove it off the lot. Terrible investment.
— GrandMasterB23 (@grand_b23) May 11, 2020
Or questioning who paid for it, as if he couldn’t be advanced anything by an agent or someone else with the contract coming a day or two later.
He can finally cash those booster checks now that he is away from T-Town. His NFL checks aren't even in the account yet.
— TheAngryBowler (@JHensley55) May 11, 2020
OK, now some will say these are not Dolphins fans.
And in many cases, that is true.
But Facebook tells another story.
You can’t post anything about Tua there without several trolls trashing the pick.
So the question becomes:
Did the Dolphins make those people miserable?
Or were they always that way?
Ethan J. Skolnick, the CEO of Five Reasons Sports Network, has covered South Florida sports since 1996… and finally feels good about the direction of the Dolphins.