Those of you who know me know that I am a huge fan of all teams Miami. And yes, that includes the Panthers, even though I pulled for and rooted for and celebrated for the Lightning when they won the Cup last May. Just call me a blasphemer. I have also mentioned previously that I have very dreamy memories of my childhood. So what doees the first have to do with the second? Quite simply, Dan Marino.
A very large part of my childhood memories were made possible by Don Shula, who in April of 1983, selected Dan Marino in the NFL draft. I grew up watching the Miami Dolphins, living and dying as a kid with every win and loss. From Bob Griese to Tony Nathan to Nat Moore to AJ Duhe (I wore #77 when I played for the Boys Club) I was a DolFan through and through, and even after the cavernous 2004 season, I still bleed Coral and Aqua.
But the drafting of Dan Marino was huge for various reasons. It allowed the Dolphins to remain as one of the elite teams in the NFL. It matured Miami’s offense from a traditional ground attack (see the glory years of Csonka, Kiick and Morris) to a never-before-seen aerial assault. And it created a hero for many, many DolFans, none bigger than me.
So a day after his selection into the NFL Hall of Fame, I sit here with a smile on my face as I look back on the fond memories of watching Dan Marino play on Sundays. I had the great fortune of watching him play live, both in the Orange Bowl and Joe Robbie Stadium, and of growing up in absolute admiration of a man who epitomized skill, competitiveness, and desire. I am sure there is a 13 year old in Indianapolis right now who holds the same feelings for Peyton Manning.
I am happy to see one of my heroes honored this way. I am happy to have ‘been a part’ of those glory years in the 80’s and 90’s, and I am happy to scour sites from Expedia to Orbitz to Travelocity as I start making travel plans for Canton in August. (Damn right I’m going!) And I know there was a lot of talk after September 11 about what makes a hero. But if you take a look at what the consumate Pittsburgh Guy has done for the community of South Florida, you will know that his accomplishments on the field pale in comparison to those off the field.
So on this Super Bowl Sunday, I salute a hero on his well deserved honor. I also have to blaspheme – again – and cheer for the Patriots (yes, the same Pats who are divisional opponents of the Dolphins!). Because if there is anyone I dislike more than a fan from Boston, it’s a fan from Philadelphia. C’mon….who boos Santa?