It's been a tough decade in South Florida to be a fan of the Miami Dolphins—the toughest in the team's nearly 50-year history.
Since Dan Marino and Jimmy Johnson both retired in 2000, the Dolphins have gone 99-109 with three playoff appearances and two AFC East championships. Miami hasn't won a playoff game since 2000 and made its last AFC Championship game appearance in 1992.
But do the Dolphins garner sympathy for their ineptitude, or is it a product of their own making?
The answer isn't as cut and dry as it seems, however for the most part, it's a product of their own making.
Passing on Drew Brees in the 2001 NFL draft is one instance of the team setting itself back. This was a move made by former head coach Dave Wannstedt and former general manager Rick Spielman. The two decided to draft Wisconsin's Jamar Fletcher in the first round with Drew Brees still available.
However, fate would come calling a second time six years later when Nick Saban had the chance to sign Brees but opted for Daunte Culpepper instead.
But that wasn't the only terrible move made by the Dolphins front office at the time. In fact, horrible moves are why the Dolphins front office hasn't been too stable. After Spielman and Wannstedt left and the Dolphins hired Saban, Saban brought in Randy Mueller to assist him on personnel moves in 2006.
What Mueller didn't know was that Saban would also require Mueller to eventually find his replacement, something Mueller found out after Saban left to take the job at Alabama. That replacement: Cam Cameron, who reminds you that we need our thumbs to go "this way!"
After a 1-15 2007, Mueller and Cameron were shipped out, and in came the Parcells era, bringing Jeff Ireland, Tony Sparano, fist pumps, field goals and the Wildcat. At first, it looked promising. It wound up failing with only one member of that regime left in Miami.
In that time span, Miami has had 17 different starting quarterbacks and has faced more adversity than the team had ever seen since it was founded in 1966. No sympathy is needed here, for the Dolphins have brought this upon themselves not only due to their performance on the field but with some notable PR disasters such as the entire Fight Song debacle, the orange carpet and more recently the name-calling that has come with the failure of the Sun Life Stadium deal.
If anyone deserves sympathy, yet won't get it, it would be Dolphins fans, especially the loyalest of the loyal. Consider what the team has put its fans through, and they have remained with the team through thick and (puts on sunglasses) fin.
Unfortunately you will never see Dolphins fans rank as one of the most tortured fanbases in all of sports, despite the fact that they are just that, always waiting for something negative to happen (if that's not torture, I don't know what is).
However, Dolphins fans likely don't want your sympathy, either, especially because after a promising 2012 and an active offseason, things are looking up.
It looks like Miami has found its quarterback of the future in Ryan Tannehill, who has weapons around him that he didn't have last season. Miami's defense looks like it will be among the league's best, and the culture of the Dolphins looks like it's changing for the better.
For the first time in what seems like an eternity, there's a concrete reason for hope, and because of that hope, Dolphins fans will not accept your sympathy even if you offered it—a far cry from just under a year ago.
Things are looking up in Miami for the first time in a while, and no sympathy is needed over that.