Friday, January 25, 2008

Dolphins and Doolittle

Don Shula likes to perpetuate the legend of greatness of his 1972 Dolphin Team. They have reunions to celebrate their accomplishment and if anyone starts to approach their record he finds some reason to fault them. The latest contender is the New England Patriots, arguably one of the greatest teams in NFL history, rivaling the great teams of the past in accomplishment. Shula's reason this time is Bill Belichicks' cheating earlier in the season.

I understand Belichick violated the rules and the penalty seems too light to me. I think Belichick should have been suspended for several games. His team has already won more game than the '72 Dolphins, (18 vs. 17) and one more win will match their perfect season.

Shula is however taking the cult of his personality too far. It is beginning to look like a marketing program for his restaurants.

I contrast his high profile and visible advocacy of his team with General Jimmy Doolittle's devotion to the men who accompanied him on their 1942 raid on Tokyo. Those men were younger than Shula's Dolphins. They volunteered for an unknown secret mission and were willing to risk their lives for less pay than a professional athlete, even in 1942.

Every year a few more of these extraordinary men pass away. Every year fewer gather to remember their comrades, not to celebrate they past glory. As of October 14, 2007 only twelve of the original 80 raiders are still living.