Jets-Dolphins becoming a national event
DAVIE, Fla. -- The media on Monday afternoon was allowed into the Miami Dolphins' locker room to conduct interviews for the first time since last season.
Not that we could hear what the players were saying with all the drums pounding. Or maybe that was their hearts beating.
The thumps aren't deafening yet. They're building. The Dolphins will open the season at home against the New York Jets in a game most of the country will be watching.
In an old AFL rivalry that already has legs, there are enough story lines to draw CBS to Dolphins Stadium for a showcase matchup between teams that posted a combined five victories last year.
"It's a big game," said Dolphins RB Ricky Williams, one of the juicier story lines himself. "I think we're lucky because a couple of months ago people were talking about the Dolphins and the Jets not being a big deal. But to open the season center stage like this, we have a chance to make a name for ourselves."
- Sunday will be Brett Favre's official Jets debut, and he will be making it against the QB the Jets released to make room for him: Chad Pennington.
- It will be the unveiling of Bill Parcells' latest reconstruction project against a team he used to run.
- Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano will make his NFL debut.
- Jets boss Eric Mangini will match up against his old boss, Parcells, for the first time as a head coach.
- LOLB Calvin Pace will make his Jets debut against a team that was hot to sign him but couldn't close the deal.
- No. 1 draft pick LT Jake Long will renew a Michigan-Ohio State rivalry against No. 6 pick ROLB Vernon Gholston.
- The Jets have won four straight games in the series and seven of the past eight.
Here's what they're saying in the Dolphins' locker room:
RB Ronnie Brown: "It's pretty intense as far as a rivalry game, and everybody knows the magnitude of it. Now that we have Chad and they have Favre, I think that it just stepped up a notch. There is going to be some added intensity."
OLB Joey Porter: "It wasn't really a rivalry last year when we were just getting beat on by everybody, but I would like to get all of our rivalries renewed again. I feel like we can go into the game and win some games. It's not a rivalry if it's one-sided. You have to win some games to make it a rivalry."
LB Akin Ayodele: "There is a lot of outside hype, when really, at the end of the day, it is about the players. We understand it is the first game of the season. Yes, we swapped quarterbacks, and they've got a new quarterback and we got a new quarterback. But we understand that we want to start this thing on the right note. We want to get rolling early. Guys here have put in a lot of work and understand what happened last year; we don't want any repeats of that. We're hungry for a victory early."