Pardon the terrible pun, it was inevitable. We’re approaching week 6 in the NFL season, and fans in Buffalo, Oakland, and Detroit are looking forward to football in January that’s not called the Senior Bowl. Meanwhile, the Colts and the Eagles are jockeying for the number one pick. Times are a little different in the NFL these days. OK — Andy Reid’s squad is definitely more than capable enough to string together a little win streak and make the NFC East more interesting, but for the purposes of this column they’re in the sweepstakes. Even though calling it a sweepstakes would imply there’s an underlying gambling aspect to this event. And there’s not.
Andrew Luck is the surest thing to come out of any major sports draft since LeBron James in 2003. If scouts could put together a 22-year old dream quarterback at which to throw millions of dollars, he’d resemble Luck. Everything down to his minor intricacies–the fact that he went to Stanford, he’s an Eagle scout, well-coached, well-educated, a good head on his shoulders, and the list goes on. Not to mention this kid has heart (just ask Shareece Wright). From day one he will step in and completely revitalize a fan base, much like the way LeBron transformed a pessimistic Cleveland starving for a championship. A phenom accomplishing things people before him could not. People love that. America loves that. LeBron couldn’t do that in Cleveland, so he infamously bolted for Miami, which ironically might be the perfect place for Andrew Luck to launch his professional career.
Dolphin fans have not had a lot to look forward to since Dan Marino left. In fact, the most exciting part of any season for Miami fans would have to be seeing the final undefeated team fall, so that everyone could see Don Shula and company pop some champagne. Things are no different in 2011 as they were for the past decade. In 2006, the Dolphins opted for Daunte Culpepper over Drew Brees. Whoops. A year later, the team burned a second round pick on John Beck in hopes to reverse this mistake. And all this was after the team dealt a second round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for the coveted A.J. Freeley. Yikes. An organization could only swing and miss so many times when addressing a need. Fast forward to 2011. While he seemed improved before separating his shoulder, Chad Henne isn’t hoisting the Lombardi Trophy any time soon. The same could be said for Matt Moore or Sage Rosenfels.
If the Dolphins finish the season with the worst record–which could be expedited if they are smart enough to tank the season–a win-win situation for both parties evolves. At this point, the best move the franchise could make to land their quarterback is to start tanking games. Maybe throw undrafted quarterback Pat Devlin into the line of fire for a few games. Bring back Cleo Lemon. This organization needs to do everything in its power to land this pick. Dynasties are built by tanking games in order to get a once in a generation player. In basketball, the San Antonio Spurs don’t win a single championship if they don’t land the number one pick in 1997 to pair David Robinson with Tim Duncan. Likewise, Cleveland does not put together a title team and sell out their arena without tanking for LeBron. Even point to the Celtics tanking in 2007 to try and land Greg Oden/Kevin Durant, only to have that backfire, which yielded them Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. In football, the same story. Peyton Manning, Troy Aikman, and John Elway all make up the exclusive club of can’t miss franchise players that went number one overall. All hall of famers. All with rings.
In fact, delivering a Super Bowl to Miami isn’t just something the likes of Joey Harrington, A.J. Feeley, and John Beck could not accomplish. Dan Marino, while one of the most prolific passers to ever play the game of football, is joined by Charles Barkley at the head of the table of legends unable to win a championship. This is what makes the case of Andrew Luck to the Dolphins so intriguing. For his entire career in Miami, Andrew Luck would be compared to Dan Marino. More notably, and maybe looking too far into the future, but what if Andrew Luck delivers a Super Bowl to Miami? If he follows his career by the type of trajectory that experts are predicting, and wins a Super Bowl–something Dan Marino could not do–we’re talking about the stuff of legends. He will be compared to Marino in Miami, and if he wins the Super Bowl people will make the argument that he’s better than Marino. Period. If Luck is good enough to bring a Super Bowl to Miami then people will put him in a higher place than Marino. People value championships, and capitalizes on Marino’s inability to win one could be Luck’s fastest way to the history books.
So no pressure, Andrew. If you get drafted by Miami and win a Super Bowl, people will think you’re better than Dan Marino. Arguably the greatest quarterback of all time. And if that fails, you can always team up with Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald after seven years to take your talents elsewhere.