The Dolphins will open their season at home Monday night, so why is coach Tony Sparano preparing his team as if it's entering hostile territory?
That's life in Miami, where opposing fans are known to travel well, regardless of sport. With that knowledge, the Dolphins have been piping in crowd noise while they practice this week in preparation for a loud contingent of New England Patriots supporters at Sun Life Stadium.
Sparano is prepared for the fact that many fans will be cheering for touchdown passes by Tom Brady, not Chad Henne.
"One of the reasons we do it here is we are in South Florida and the New England teams and New York teams, there's a a lot of fans out here," Sparano told the Sun Sentinel in Thursday's edition. "They have a good fan base themselves. Somehow they make their way into our stadium."
Sparano said this is the first time he has prepared for a home game in this manner. Though the fans at Sun Life Stadium won't all be decked out in orange and teal, the coach hopes the crowd will get behind the Dolphins in a big way. Last week, Sparano quoted a line from the 2000 movie "Gladiator" in discussing the importance of connecting with the fans in attendance.
"If you win the crowd, victory belongs to you," Sparano told the Sun Sentinel. "It's a powerful line. This group will win the crowd. They'll win the crowd. There's no doubt about it. This team will win, and you should enjoy the journey."
Coming off a season in which the Dolphins won seven games but went a miserable 1-7 at home, the Miami fan base will be looking for a Week 1 sign that there will be something worth supporting this season. And Sparano's decision to work with piped-in crowd noise isn't meant to be a knock on Dolphins fans. It's simply a matter of preparation.
"I want no surprises for our football team when we walk out there," he said.