After what seems like a lifetime of receiving little or no love from the NFL's flagship website, basically an online extension of NFL Network, the Dolphins have finally garnered a bit of much-deserved respect.
Hardly an hour goes by on any given day that I'm not checking NFL.com (in addition to about a half-dozen other outlets) for official developments in the glorious soap opera that is professional football.
Imagine my surprise when I saw that someone from one of my favorite NFL news sources publicly declared his belief that the Dolphins are a Super Bowl contender.
Do not pinch yourselves, Miami Dolphins fans, for this is not a dream.
Former recruiter-turned-analyst Michael Lombardi recently took a job with NFL.com wherein he contributes three columns per week. Last week, he published an article entitled: "Breaking Down AFC East Picture has Dolphins Making Big Jump ".
At first, I figured that Lombardi might say something along the lines of 'the Dolphins are ready to re-take the AFC East', or the like. Surely he wouldn't get too bold with his predictions, would he?
Then Lombardi took the article to a place that was wholly-unexpected.
"Much has been happening in Miami in recent weeks, but what should not be lost in all the hysteria of the Heat adding LeBron James and Chris Bosh is that the Dolphins are a Super Bowl contender."
What did he just say?
Using a grading system of his own implement, he described the Dolphins as a "Blue-Chip" squad, roughly meaning a team in contention for a Super Bowl appearance.
The AFC article would not be the only time Michael Lombardi would praise the Dolphins. In another, he comments on the Dolphins' superb execution, which he had recently admired while watching some tape from 2009.
Just today, he came with yet another reiteration, apparently after he'd had time to think about what he said.
"I like my Miami prediction as a Super Bowl contender even more now. The tape on the Dolphins does not lie, clearly showing the Fins were one of the league's best last year in terms of execution."
So perhaps there is one man out there who believes that owner Stephen Ross' off-season "super" predictions were not entirely unfounded. Michael Lombardi is no slouch when it comes to football either; with nearly 30 years in the business, he has done it all from scouting and recruiting, to telecasting and professional analysis.
If this man evaluates a team and proclaims them to be legitimate contenders, chances are it is a highly-educated opinion, and not one formed arbitrarily.
There are certainly legions of Dolphins fans who are beginning to believe.
I am not the sort to get too far ahead when it comes to handing my team the Lombardi (no relation) Trophy before the season has even started. As previous years have taught us, just about anything can happen in this game, and even the most unlikely teams have a chance at post-season glory.
I don't know for certain that the Dolphins will be as dominant as I feel they are capable of being this year, and I don't know if they will, in fact, appear in this year's Super Bowl, but I do know one thing:
Michael Lombardi is my new favorite analyst.
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