NEW YORK --- Fans still clamor for No. 13 to suit up and wing touchdown passes for the Miami Dolphins.
Who knows, maybe Dan Marino could still help the team with which he earned his Hall of Fame credentials. The Dolphins are, after all, 0-12 and could be headed for the first 0-16 season in NFL history.
Marino acknowledges the Miami mess is worse than anything he ever imagined his former team could go through. He offers this advice to anyone who cares about the Dolphins: patience.
"You have to be patient when it gets like this," Marino said. "You always need hope. You're fighting for something positive to come out of a really bad year. What you look for is a sign of hope that the future will get better.
"Hey," he adds with a shrug, "the only way they can go is up."
If you consider the Dolphins haven't won, that's true. But considering how poorly the team has drafted and how so many free agents have not clicked in Miami since, well, since Marino retired after the 1999 season, it's possible the franchise could founder for quite a while.
That doesn't mean Marino expects the die-hards to abandon the Dolphins even if they do surpass the 1976 Buccaneers, an expansion club that lost all 14 games -- and the first 12 of 1977, to boot.
"If you're a loyal fan, you're a loyal fan," said the great passer who has seen Brett Favre and Peyton Manning recently surpass some of his most impressive records. "I know a lot of them are frustrated and they wonder if Cam (Cameron) goes 0-16, is this going to happen again next year. But I'd never say they will give up on the team."
After being blown out last Sunday by the Jets, now 3-9, the realization seemed to hit just about everywhere in the NFL that these Dolphins just might be the most futile team the league has seen. There's almost as much talk about whether Miami will go 0-for-2007 as there is about the Patriots being perfect.
And the odds appear just as good for the Dolphins to complete their flop as for the Pats to go unbeaten.