As the Dolphins try to put a challenging 2013 season behind them, they realize that they’re not that far away from becoming a true contender. Their effort includes a T-shirt carrying a stream of slogans that were devised not by the coaching staff but by the players.
“It started in the offseason when [Coach Joe Philbin] came to a group of guys, veterans on the team, reiterating that this is our team,” defensive end Cameron Wake told PFT by phone on Tuesday night. “If you go around any locker room, they’ll have all the mantras and the sayings. From my experience, it’s been coach-driven, what they want the team statement to be. He said it should come from you guys. We sat down as a group of men, teammates, brothers and came up with a group of statements about what the Dolphins are and should be.”
Wake said that “everybody” was involved in coming up with slogans, which were collected and discussed. The team then picked the best.
The end result, a “Miami Dolphins Credo,” has been placed onto a T-shirt.
“I am a Miami Dolphin,” the T-shirt reads. “I am a warrior and a member of an unbeatable team. I will always place the team first. If I see something — I will say something — I commit to call it as it is. I will develop undying trust with the man to my left and right. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I am the change that I want to see in my team. I live respect and truth telling. I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, and proficient in my position tasks and drills. I am a professional. I am a Miami Dolphin.”
It’s no accident that the list begins and ends with “I am a Miami Dolphin.”
“Whatever you do, bad, good, great, terrible, it’s going to be attributed to the Miami Dolphins,” Wake said. “Whatever you do, wherever you go, you are going to be representing this organization.”
The different sizes were used in large part to ensure that each sentence fit entirely on one line, and the large “I will never quit” sentence catches the eye. And for good reason; last year’s scandal involving Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito was sparked by Martin essentially quitting on the team. But Wake says that line is not about Martin.
“It never crossed my mind and never had anything to do with him whatsoever,” Wake said. “I think about games like the Cincinnati game, like the Patriots game. Where we have to fight until there’s no time left on the clock.”
The line “If I see something — I will say something — I commit to call it as it is” also invites speculation that it was influenced by the Martin/Incognito ordeal. Wake says it’s actually about day-in and day-out efforts to hold teammates accountable in every way. He explained that the new mindset resulted in 99-percent participation in the offseason program, and in a more vocal locker room and practice field when it comes to making sure everyone is doing everything he can to push the Dolphins to the next level.
“We’re not a zero-win team,” Wake said. “We were a good football team that lost games we shouldn’t have. To go in and tweak that small percentage to gain that extra yard, touchdown, gain hopefully comes from this whole effort.”
Whether intended or not, an effort to ensure accountability on and off the field will ensure that the 2014 Dolphins won’t be dealing with avoidable distractions like the one that may have ultimately affected the team’s ability to clinch a playoff berth after heading into the final two weeks at 8-6. If the new attitude remains in place through the inevitable adversity that nearly every team encounters, maybe the Dolphins will end up being a lot better than expected this year.