The Miami Dolphins have a lot of musicians in their corner. T-Pain and Jimmy Buffett sing Dolphins fight songs, Rick Ross wants to be a part owner, and Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez already have that distinction. Still, they don’t come more loyal than Darius Rucker.
Fronting Hootie & the Blowfish, Rucker sang about the Dolphins making him cry, and if that weren’t enough, Dan Marino guested in the “Only Wanna Be With You” music video. His football-fan persona has been sealed since, but Rucker has remained a die-hard into his years as a solo star, even as the Dolphins’ fortunes have sagged in the post-Marino era.
On the bright side, 2015 offers hope for a guy like Darius. The Dolphins netted game-changing defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh this offseason and quarterback Ryan Tannehill is a popular sleeper pick for big-time improvement. And what about the ongoing drama provided by their dominant division rivals, the Patriots? Here’s Darius Rucker, getting us ready for some football:
How are you feeling about Tom Brady’s suspension being lifted?
It was a big move. I thought that was a big move by the judge… it’s crazy.
I think the silver lining is if the Patriots fall off this year, they don’t have an excuse. But then, you fear an angry Tom Brady…
Last time they were mad, they went 18-1.
But since he got his suspension nixed, maybe he won’t be as mad.
I hope not.
What do you think of the Dolphins?
I like it. I think they added some weapons, especially at wideout, and adding Suh was a great thing. It should be a pretty good year, could be a playoff year. But playing in Brady’s division, it’s so hard.
A lot of times it just feels like you’re gunning for that wild card, and at that point it’s kinda bleak.
Yeah, exactly. You have to play that first weekend and it’s hit-or-miss. But I’ll take a wild card, man. It’s been, what, since 2008? I think 10-6; if we get lucky, 11-5.
We gotta start off strong, maybe win a couple games we shouldn’t win. I’m looking forward to this season. I haven’t been this excited for a Dolphins season in a while. Since maybe the Jay Fiedler years, when Ricky [Williams] was there. I thought we had a chance!
And you were there for the glory days of Dolphin football.
The first year I started liking the Dolphins was Super Bowl VI, which they lost to the Cowboys. I was 5. My whole family was pulling for the Cowboys, so I rooted for the Dolphins. They lost and I cried. Ever since then I’ve been a fan, and the next year we went undefeated. Going to back-to-back Super Bowls as a 6- and 7-year-old kid, man…
Was it crying after the Super Bowl that inspired the lyrics from “Only Wanna Be With You” (“I’m such a baby ’cause the Dolphins make me cry”)?
It was more the fact that I used to get upset when they lost. I’d be in tears, angry when the Dolphins lost. You couldn’t even talk to me. I went through the 1-15 season.
Do you think Ryan Tannehill is the real thing?
I like him and I’ve always thought he was the real thing. This year’s big for him. Everybody’s talking about how much he’s improved… I want to see Tannehill win some games in the fourth quarter that we shouldn’t win. When he starts doing that, I’ll know we’re doing something right.
What do you think of Ndamukong Suh?
I keep saying to people, “Defensive Player of the Year,” and it’s hard for a defensive tackle to win that, but I just think he’s going to have a monster year.
What do you think about the Jets and the Bills?
The Jets are gonna be the Jets. They’re trying to rebuild with a new coach. And you know the Bills are gonna play defense. You know Rex Ryan will make them good on defense. The Bills could be really good; it’s all up to quarterback play.
What did you think about Geno Smith getting punched in the locker room?
The one thing I got out of that was that it seemed like the whole team didn’t have a lot of respect for Geno Smith. Any other quarterback in the league gets punched like that, and his whole team comes to his defense, no matter what went down, especially if the guy got cut. But I didn’t see anybody coming to Geno Smith’s defense, so I thought that was peculiar.
And I think the Jets will be a better team with Ryan Fitzpatrick.
I think so too. The Jets will play defense. I think the AFC East is top to bottom, the best division in the NFL. You’ve got three teams that could make the playoffs and the Jets, who could sneak up. With Fitzpatrick having a great year, they could make the playoffs.
Are you still friends with any players on the team?
The last player I was good friends with was Brian Hartline, and he’s gone now.
Who do you think could be sleepers this year?
I think the Vikings could be a sleeper, with Adrian Peterson back. I think the Lions are due.
What about the Super Bowl?
I keep saying Packers-Dolphins, MVP Ryan Tannehill, because that’s what my heart tells me. It wouldn’t surprise me, and it would make me really happy, but I could see Packers-Patriots.
Then you gotta hope for MVP Aaron Rodgers.
Yeah, Aaron’s one of my best buddies in the league, so that’s why I pull for him.
You played football, right?
Yeah, I played for like eight years. I played every position, from right tackle to quarterback, and everything in between.
So you were basically the kid who was really good and the coach wanted to play him everywhere.
I didn’t mind. I was coachable! I was glad just to be on the field. I was proud to start. That was all that mattered to me.
When you watch a game, are you good at analyzing how a player is doing?
Oh, absolutely. I think I could take a job as an NFL scout. I live for the NFL. I watch so much of it. I’d love to be one of those guys.