As it turns out, though, there's a perfectly reasonable explanation. There are no injured Dolphins. In Sparano's world, there's a name for people who are injured. Dead people.
"Nobody feels sorry for you one way or the other," Sparano said. "The Patriots don't feel sorry for us. We really don't feel sorry for them.
"So at the end of this if you are hurt and truly hurt, that is one thing. If you are bumped up, nicked up, whatever it is -- there's a pretty good chance there is a lot of people in this league that are nicked up, hurt whatever it is -- they have to play.
"So the message is simple: If you want to go to heaven you have to die to get there."
I love it. In what other line of work could you complain to your boss about an injury or an illness, and it's perfectly acceptable for them to respond with, "If you want to go to heaven, you have to die to get there"?
"Mr. Arbuckle, I'm not sure I can make the staff meeting this afternoon. I was hit by a car at lunch, and I think I shattered my --"
"If you want to get to heaven, Johnson, you have to die to get there. Meeting's at three."
On one hand, it may seem insensitive and barbaric, but you know what? That attitude has helped get the Dolphins from 1-15 last year to 6-4 and in the playoff hunt this year. Having to produce a death certificate to get out of practice may not make for a particularly pleasing work environment for the Dolphins players themselves, but for a 6-4 record, I'm sure they'll put up with it.
- Tony Sparano