Dolphins MetLife Takeover – An Interview With Igor


This Sunday, the Miami Dolphins will play in front of a packed New York crowd.  Unfortunately for the Jets, two of those sections belong to fans of the Miami Dolphins.  This weekend is the 2nd annual Metlife Takeover and I talked with co-founder Nate “Igor” Smith about this weekends huge event.  To put this in perspective, last years event put 199 Miami Dolphins fans in one to two section of MetLife Stadium.  This year, the DolfansNYC group will be taking 760 fans to MetLife on Sunday in one of the biggest single fan group appearances in the history of the NFL.

Frankly, something on this level has never been done before.  Nate and I go back about six years and he is one of the nicest people you can meet.  He and co-founder Michelle Kramer have taken a few Dolphins fans in NYC and have made it something amazing.  Here is what Nate and I spoke about.

PP:  First, I have to ask where the name”IGOR” came from?    You had once said that your previous site, BoredWithLosing was basically kept alive to keep your invitation to Web Weekend events.  Did you ever imagine yourself in the position you are in now?  Not simply running a website but really being the face to an entire legion of Dolphins fans?

"Igor is a nickname that I got when I was the only freshman on my high school shot put and discus team. I would get “bullied” by the upper classmen and have to carry all the weights. When carrying a bunch of heavy metal balls without a bag you sort of have to hunch over and pull them into your body. I guess that made me look like Igor from Frankenstein to them. For some reason it stuck forever. I’ve now been Igor longer than I have been Nate."

"I still run full time for a living (NSFW!) but the site you are talking about didn’t even last a whole season. I used to blog about the Dolphins all the time and my fans were sick of it, so I started a separate off shoot called “Bored With Losing”. Unfortunately that season was another disappointing year and by week six I had basically given up. I kept updating the site from time to time but it was just to keep the Dolphins inviting me out to Web Weekend. I am glad I did because I became friends Michelle and with a lot of Dolphins webmasters that helped us grow DolfansNYC!"

PP:  Walk me through the initial birth of DolfansNYC and share with us what you envisioned it be when you and Michelle first discussed the possibility.

"At Web Weekend I found out the 2 Michelles watched games together at a bar with a few Dolphins fans so I started joining them. We were pretty happy with our small group until the bar slowly became a Patriots bar. The season that they went 16-0 and we went 1-15 was particularly rough and when Cleo Lemon threw a TD pass in OT to Greg Camarillo I ended up celebrating a bit too much and almost started a huge brawl in the bar. Luckily one of the Pats fans was an off duty cop and broke it up, but after that we needed a new home."

"One of the members of our small group was walking to our bar when he passed a bar called Third & Long. They had the sound on for the Dolphins game and there was another small group of Phins fans there. Michelle called the manager Curtis and he said he would give us sound and the big TV as long as we could bring 10 Dolfans out every week. So the two groups merged and the Dolphins made the playoffs! Eight of us went to the last game of the season against the Jets and that was the beginning of both DolfansNYC and the Meadowlands Takeovers."

"During the offseason we started a Twitter and a Facebook group and between my web marketing skills and Michelle’s connections and our Web Weekend friends we got the word out quickly. By week one Third and Long had a line out the door and Dolfans NYC was born."

PP:  What has been the most gratifying event under the DolfansNYC banner outside the charity drives and money you all have raised.  Personally or as a group?

"By far the #MetLifeTakeover this year. 199 Dolfans sitting together as the Dolphins killed the Jets. You could hear us on TV we were so loud. Nat Moore, Stephen Ross, Mike Dee, Fergie and a bunch of cheerleaders came to our tailgate. It was pretty much the best day of my Dolphins life and the best part is it looks like this year could be even better!"

PP:   DolfansNYC has now won the Eddie Jones Award for Best Dolphins Fan Group.  It’s more than deserving.  I only threw that in there so our readers will know what we all think of you…truth is you are a pretty humble person.  How have you handled the added attention from fans who you meet and immediately know who you are.  Seriously.

"This is going to sound the opposite of humble but my website and my brand as a photographer is way more well known than DolfansNYC is so I deal with weird minor celebrity type run ins a lot. The big difference is that it’s always really uncomfortable when fans of my website come up to me but when it’s a Dolphins fan it’s not about me at all, it’s about the team or the stuff we do as Dolfans NYC. I love leading people in cheers and being the face of Dolfans NYC because it’s really not about me and I love meeting people that love the Dolphins. Plus Michelle hates speaking in public so somebody has to yell at everyone!"

PP:  I have to ask and since we know each other you know this not a knock on you by any means but we both know that you tend to stray a bit on the opposite side of the normal fence.  Meant as a complete compliment.  This past year for the Dolphins vs. Buffalo game you and Michelle were invited to attend the game in CEO Tom Garfinkel‘s suite.  How did that feel walking into an executive suite decked in your Zubaz and Dolphins fan gear?  I have to imagine a once in a lifetime opportunity.

"Believe it or not I can clean up a little bit. I might even own a suit or two. But we were invited to his suite because we are die hard fans (who happened to raise a ton of money for the Miami Dolphins Foundation) so I didn’t see any reason to tone down my Dolphins swag. Everyone was pretty excited about my jacket and one of the people in the marketing department was trying to get me to make one for her. The suite was amazing though, I thought I was only going to be in there for a minute because I wanted to be able to yell and scream, but everyone in the suite was yelling right along with me. I was high fiving an older gentleman behind me and at some point he gave me his card and he was the CEO of a huge company. It was pretty funny."

PP:  Igor, you and I talked a bit at this past WW about the DolfansNYC group.  You mentioned then that your vision was expansion.  Not necessarily in NY but around the country with more chapters.  You specifically mentioned the possibility of a DolfansLA group.  First how is that progressing and if there was anyone out there who wanted to start a charter what would they need to do and how would they contact you?

"We actually have a meeting with the Dolphins next week to talk about it and I have a meeting with the founders of the two DC area fan clubs about trying to get them organized. The Dofans LA group is up and running and they meet at a bar called the Snug in Burbank. As they grow I think they are going to find a new bar, but it’s a pretty good start so far.  The idea is to take what we have done in NYC and expand the formula to other cities. Obviously we have some advantages in NYC but there’s no reason to think that every major city couldn’t do something similar. The plan is to focus on Boston, LA and DC for the moment but if anyone with a fan club wants to reach out they are more than welcome to do so and I can help them any way I can."

PP:  MetLife Takeover is now a huge event.  Probably one of the biggest fan-fests in all of the NFL.  How much bigger do you see this growing in the future?

"Honestly I don’t think it can get much bigger. The Jets were coming off a really bad off season so it was pretty easy to get a lot of tickets together. In Boston the fan club there can’t even get 10 people sitting together because it’s so hard and so expensive to get tickets. I guess it’s just another reason to root against the Jets. We are going to keep putting events together no matter what but if the Jets are ever competitive we might just throw a tailgate and it will be every man for themselves as far as getting tickets."