Every team is a Super Bowl contender during training camp, at least that's what the local media in each NFL town seems to think. Puff pieces about teams/players/coaches often read something like, "[Player X] is poised to have a career year because he's getting over [ailment/personal tragedy/weight issues/immaturity]. He will have a key role in [Team Y] making [playoffs/Super Bowl] after last season's [surprise/disappointment]."
To celebrate the brimming positivity being felt by each of the NFL's 32 fanbases, this month Shutdown Corner will take a team-by-team look at the flowery and buoyant prose being written by local columnists and writers, and the hopeful quotes of players and coaches in our daily feature, Camp Sunshine. This morning, the Miami Dolphins:
Including the drops?
[Brandon] Marshall doesn't want to return to the nightmare that was last year. He's married now -- to a different woman than the one he says caused "90 to 95 percent'' of his problems in the past.
Most importantly, the Saints have a color man named Hokie Gajan?
"They weren't getting enough production out of a guy [Charles Grant(notes)] making a whole lot of money," Saints radio analyst Hokie Gajan said. "But he's still a talented player, and a delightful guy. If he keeps himself in shape and keeps his weight down, he'll be good for Miami."
Grant, who signed a two-year deal worth a comparatively modest $4.5 million, said the snub from the Saints was all the motivation he needed.
"When you're accustomed to being somewhere and think you're going to retire there," Grant said, "you've got to be the first one to kick yourself in the behind and say, 'you were in a place where you got comfortable. Now nobody knows you.'
"This is a great thing for me. I can go home after practice, study my playbook, and nobody knows who I am. I just want to get to work and be apart of a great football team."
Thomas Jefferson was a 'Fins fan:
From the Free Speech Monument in Charlottesville, Va.:
Courtesy John Sparks, WPTV
The party pooper:
The Dolphins, who once owned the state as Super Bowl champions, consistent winners and Florida's only professional sports team, now stand as the least-accomplished such team since their last AFC Championship appearance. Yet they still find themselves beneficiaries of a sort of rote support and optimism.
Since that 29-10 loss to Buffalo in Joe Robbie Stadium Jan. 17, 1993, championship rings have graced fingers of the 1997 and 2003 Marlins, the 2005-06 Miami Heat and the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The often-laughable Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup. The Orlando Magic got slapped around in two NBA Finals, as did the Tampa Bay Rays in a World Series and the Panthers in a Stanley Cup Final.
At least they got there.