The Dolphins are Getting Worried

Every NFL season, after the last team suffers its first defeat, the members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins pop champagne and toast themselves. The ’72 Dolphins, of course, are the last team to go through an entire season without a loss, and we know this because they never, ever, let us forget about it. It’s kind of quaint in a high school reunion kind of way, but lately it’s become kind of sad, again, like a high school reunion.

The last time the ’72 Dolphins were kind of relevant was when the 1985 Chicago Bears suffered their only defeat in Miami on Monday Night Football, back when MNF still meant something besides muting Tony Kornheiser. Now curmudgeonly coach Don Shula is suggesting that the Patriots be affixed with the dreaded asterisk should they go unbeaten.

Putting aside for a moment that asterisks do not exist for sports records, this is quite simply the dumbest thing anyone has said about the current Patriots, and there are a lot of contenders for that title.

“The Spygate thing has diminished what they’ve accomplished,” Shula said in an interview with the New York Daily News. “You would hate to have that attached to your accomplishments. They’ve got it.”

For the sake of argument, let’s say the Patriots cheated in the past using videotape to steal signs. Let’s even say that said cheating allowed them to go from a team that would have otherwise finished 6-10 and instead become a 14-2 Super Bowl-winning monster, which is a highly dubious argument, but bear with us here.

How does that affect the 2007 team? It doesn’t. The Pats were caught after Week One and unless they are the evilest, and dumbest, cretins on Earth, the video camera has presumably gone back into storage. This is why the whole spy thing was so stupid for Bill Belichick. Those actions, however you want to define them, have allowed others to cast aspersions on Patriots’ records.

Now, back to the asterisk. Via Wikipedia.

colloquial usage, an asterisk is used to indicate that a record is somehow tainted by circumstances, which are putatively explained in a footnote supposedly referenced by the asterisk.[4] This usage arose after the 1961 baseball season in which Roger Maris of the New York Yankees broke Babe Ruth‘s 34-year-old single-season home run record. Because Ruth had amassed 60 home runs in a season with only 154 games, compared to Maris’s 61 over 162 games, baseball commissioner Ford Frick announced that Maris’ accomplishment would be recorded in the record books with an explanation (often referred to as “an asterisk” in the retelling).

Got it everyone? There is no such thing as an asterisk on sports records. It’s an expression. Yeesh.

At least one guy from the 72 Dolphins gets it.

“You guys put forth the myth that we are pathetic losers down here clicking champagne glasses and clinging desperately to a record set 35 years ago,” former Dolphins tight end Jim Mandich told the Daily News. “Somehow we’ve been portrayed as being evil. We don’t ever blow our own horn. It’s a great record, but the record doesn’t get beaten.

“The Patriots have assembled a powerhouse of a team. They are a classy bunch of guys and play ball the right way. If they want to join the unbeaten club, come on aboard.”

Someone should have told the coach.