GARDENER MISSES POINT

You can argue all you want about whether the Dolphins will miss Daryl Gardener's presence along the defensive line, but his parting comments on Wednesday again proved the team was right in letting him go.

The problem with Gardener — and this isn't something new — is that he sometimes fails to grasp the concept that football is a team sport.

There are several examples of this.

Gardener's teammates and coaches never appreciated it when he would boast about having a "monster year" or knowing he should have been in the Pro Bowl or locking the doors at the Trans World Dome in St. Louis and seeing what transpired when the Dolphins faced the Rams last year.

Calling himself a "modern-day gladiator" also doesn't go over well with teammates and coaches.

But there are plenty of players around the league who are confident bordering on cocky, so that in itself is not the end of the world.

Not communicating with your coach and not returning his calls is inexcusable.

Gardener said Coach Dave Wannstedt knew where he was at all times during the offseason. But Wannstedt wanted to communicate with Gardener, and Gardener refused to return his calls.

Gardener said Wannstedt should have been more understanding because he was going through some personal problems, but that doesn't excuse not returning his phone calls.

The bottom line is that Gardener rubbed not only Wannstedt, but also some of his teammates the wrong way, because a couple of them went to the coach to complain about him.

And there certainly is something to be said for team chemistry. Don't believe us? The New England Patriots didn't win the Super Bowl on talent alone.

And while we're on the subject of talent, everyone will agree that Gardener has plenty of that. He just might be the most physically imposing player in the league because he's 6-6, 310 pounds or so, and is all muscle.

But the truth is Gardener never did make the Pro Bowl. Yes, he was impressive in the first half of last season, but his back then gave out on him.

The back was a problem two years ago as well? What are the odds he could last a full season? And play well throughout 16 games?

Yes, the Dolphins run defense had problems without him last year. But both Jermaine Haley and Ernest Grant played with injury.

Both are healthy and have looked real good in training camp. Then there's Larry Chester, who simply has been toying with the Dolphins' offensive linemen for the past week.

Between those guys, the Dolphins should be able to stop the run.

Yes, there will be times when Gardener would have made a difference. But there also would have been times when he would have been a negative influence.

And in the long run, the Dolphins will be better off without him.


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