Photos and VideosMore Photos and Videos
With a Monday night home opener against the hated New England Patriots approaching, Tony Sparano wants his Miami Dolphins squad ready for anything.
He is getting his team ready to face a phalanx of Pats fans expected to infiltrate Sun Life Stadium by piping in crowd noise to the Dolphins practice facility.
It's a pretty standard practice among NFL teams - when they are practicing ahead of a road game, that is.
But since when do teams have to be ready for their own fans to be drowned out at home?
When asked by the Miami Herald if he ever had to prepare for crowd noise from opposing fans at a home stadium before, Sparano replied, "No, never did it before."
"One of the reasons we do it here," he explained, "is we are in South Florida and the New England teams and New York teams, there's a a lot of fans out here."
Is Sparano just micromanaging the Dolphins ("worried about mouse manure, when we have elephant s--- all over the place," as Ricky Williams put it in January), or has the fan situation in South Florida deteriorated to the point that even the Dolphins can't count on their fans to show up for games?
First South Florida perpetually ignores the Florida Marlins, then they allow Mavericks fans to snap up courtside seats for Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Miami, and now the Patriots might get an artificial home environment at Sun Life Stadium.
Perhaps that last item will not actually happen. The Dolphins at least get more fan loyalty than the Marlins.
But maybe Sparano's micromanager characterization is true. While explaining his reasoning for piping in crowd noise during practice, Sparano also lamented that the game would start at 7:15, and not 1:00.
The Dolphins have long had an advantage at home in the first half of the season, with an record of 72-34-1 since 1980 at home in the first 8 weeks of the season. Part of that is due to the heat of Miami Septembers and Octobers.
The Dolphins scheduled 7:00 and 4:15 starts in the first two weeks of the season, though, at the behest of owner Stephen Ross, according to the Herald.
Sparano lamented that moving a September home game later in the day gives the Dolphins less of an advantage. "Yeah, it should be an advantage," he said of early-season home games, but "it's probably more [of an advantage] at 1 o'clock in the afternoon."
Sparano may be right that the 1:00 Miami sun is often an advantage for the Dolphins, but if a team becomes dependent on the weather for a competitive advantage, it may just be an indicator that the team needs every advantage it can muster, however miniscule.
And if a team is worried about excessive noise from opposing fans at a home game, perhaps it has bigger problems on its hands than the noise itself.