Showing 11 - 13 of 13 posts found matching keyword: dan marino

I had the good fortune to obtain Super Bowl tickets this year. This time yesterday, I was sitting in the rain and gusting wind of the coldest, wettest Super Bowl in history. I tell you, there wasn't a dry eye in the house when the contest was over, and it wasn't because the Bears were trampled by the Colts, giving Peyton Manning his first NFL Championship. No, it rained and rained and rained. And then it rained some more. Trey and I briefly lamented not wearing raincoats to the game, but then we realized that those people who were wearing raincoats were just as soaked-to-the-bone as we were. Yet I still saw dozens of people in the fourth quarter who were still wearing torn, useless plastic bags as though they were life preservers and holding seat cushions over their heads like umbrellas. Fortunately for us, there was a stadium employee kindly warning us of a large puddle on the way to our cars. Most of the crowd walked through it anyway, as our shoes and socks had been completely saturated hours earlier.

Thanks for the lift to the game, Trey!

Trey and I arrived early in anticipation of the day's events. While that meant that we were parked close to the stadium, it also meant that we would have to wait for nearly an hour to leave once the game was over. There is much truth in the cliche, "First In, Last Out." To my disappointment, the $20.00 I spent on a corndog, pretzel, bottle of water, and a Pepsi didn't go towards paying for a quality parking staff. At least they were a very large corndog and bottle of water. Though I hate Pepsi, as the "Official Soft Drink of the NFL," it was the only caffeine that I could get before the game. I'd forgotten how awful it tastes! Thankfully, the rain quenched my remaining, unsatisfied thirst.

Ahhh, Vice City!

As my first visit to Dolphin Stadium (formerly Dolphins Stadium, formerly Pro Player Stadium, formerly Pro Player Park, formerly Joe Robbie Stadium), home of the Miami Dolphins, it was practically a trip to Mecca. We spotted fans wearing gear from 26 of the 32 NFL teams (Bills, Jaguars, Lions, Panthers, Texans, and my hometown Falcons were not seen), but after the Bears and Colts, the team far-and-away best represented was the Dolphins themselves. I even had the opportunity to watch Dan Marino, whom the locals all apparently simply call "Danny," working on the CBS pre-game show with James Brown and Shannon Sharpe. (It was kind of comforting to see how the town still fully embraces him: the stadium is on Dan Marino Boulevard, and the city is peppered with billboards on which he pitches everything from weight-loss systems to used cars.)

Over here, Danny!

I cheered for the Bears, and Trey rooted for the Colts. I'm not much of a Colts fan for the very sound reasons that they have long been over-hyped, they used to be in the AFC East with the Dolphins, and they are quarterbacked by an ex-Tennessee Volunteer. (Sure, Grossman is an ex-Florida Gator, but at least he's incompetent.) By the second quarter, it became apparent that the Bears were horribly outclassed (as expected) and wouldn't be much of a challenge for the Colts. Trey and I had predicted at the start of the playoffs that any AFC team could take any NFC team in the playoffs this year, and after seeing the Bears' miserable performance in the Super Bowl, I still think that's true.

We came. We saw. We got very, very wet.

Watching the game with Trey proved insightful, if irritating. He made several excellent points about both teams' strategies and execution. After Devon Hester returned the opening kickoff for a Bears' touchdown, Trey pointed out that an opening return always boded bad things for the scoring team. He reminded me that the same thing happened in last month's NCAA BCS Championship game for Ohio State, who, like the Bears, tanked the rest of the game. Most amusingly, early in the 4th quarter, after Grossman completed 2 passes and was moving the Bears down field, Trey proclaimed, "if [the Bears' coaches] call another pass play here, they are complete idiots." When on the next play, Colt's cornerback Kevin Hayden returned a Grossman interception for a touchdown, icing the game, Trey got the meanest looks from some nearby soggy Bears fans, as though Trey himself had stuck the dagger in the Bears' heart. I laughed and laughed.

Final Score: Colts 29, Bears 17

I'm resentful of the fact that Peyton Manning secured his Championship ring (and cemented his legacy as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history) in Marino's hometown, but at least it rained on that punk's parade. Now I'm home, and I'm almost dry. It's certainly something that I'll have to do again. Next time, I'll be prepared: I'll take a snorkel.

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You know that I'm a fan of the Miami Dolphins. I have been since I first took an interest in the game of football back in the late 1980s. My favorite wide receiver of all time is a relative unknown named Orande Gadsden who played only 4 years exclusively for the Dolphins (and who, by the way, was the last man to catch a pass in the NFL by Dan Marino). I can tell you every quarterback who has started for the team since Marino retired. (Hmm, let's see; there's Huard, Fiedler, Griese, Lucas, Rosenfels, Feeley, Frerotte, Culpepper, Harrington, and now Lemon. Get ready, Packers fans, it will be worse than you think, trust me.) And we've been slightly above mediocre for most of that time. Hell, we've only had 4 losing seasons since joining the NFL! But if there's one aspect of the game that we've totally failed to grasp in the past two decades, it's coaching.

When current owner Wayne Huizenga bought the team in the early 90s, Don Shula was our coach. Shula was, in all regards, a great coach, one of the best in history. However, when Shula decided to retire 10 years ago, Huizenga chose to go with a proven wash-out at couch, replaced Shula with Jimmy Johnson, a Floridian who had great success with the Dallas Cowboys. Expectations were high. I thought we'd be great again, perhaps even Super Bowl bound. But the team went nowhere. This was likely because of a conflict between Marino, our aging superstar who naturally preferred the passing game, and Johnson, who would have preferred to restart the team from scratch with a focus on the run. In any event, after 3 years of exhausting turmoil, both Johnson and Marino were out.

In comes Dave Wannstedt, Johnson's protege who is fresh off several mediocre seasons with the Bears. Again I had high hopes. Wannstedt looked pretty good at times with the Bears, getting by with a team with less-than-stellar talent. Turns out that the talent problems were probably Wannstedt's fault. In Miami, he always looked lost, like a babysitter who doesn't know what to do when the tweens he's supervising get into the coffee ice cream and start bouncing off the walls. Wannstedt championed an ivy league quarterback with extremely limited passing skills, and he brought in Ricky Williams, who was the player voted "Most Likely To Destroy His Own Team" before the rise of Terrell Owens. We tanked. Wannstedt was fired in the middle of his fourth season, less than a year after receiving a contract extension from Huizenga as a reward for consistent under-performance.

Shut up, Dan.

Though I pulled for Wannstedt's temporary replacement, Jim Bates, to be the new coach, no one listened to me. Wannstedt's players had come together for Jim Bates, winning out at the end of the season. Instead of rewarding Bates, Huizenga traded competency for a "name" coach, LSU's head coach Nick Saban. Like a fool, I jumped on the bandwagon and agreed that he'd take us to the heights of the NFL again. But like Wannstedt, Saban soon proved that he couldn't control professional athletes or evaluate talent. Sure, he ditched Fiedler, but he replaced him with Culpepper. (True story: at Dan Marino's Hall of Fame induction ceremony, my brother and I noticed that Culpepper's numbers were comparable to some of the all-time greats. I remember my brother commenting that someone was going to look at those numbers and mistakenly think that he was actually good. Apparently, that someone was Nick Saban.) At least Saban fooled more than just me. He tricked professional sportswriters into thinking we'd reach the Super Bowl in 2007. Instead we had a 6-10 record, the third worst in the AFC. And then, like a kick in the crotch after a punch in the gut, Saban jumped ship earlier this week to head back to the relative safety (and economic goldmine) of college coaching.

Now it's back to the drawing board to select a new coach. I've lost my faith. I'd hope that Huizenga could find someone qualified, but I know now that he's just going to grab a big name. In fact, I heard today that he's already planning to interview other washed-out ex-NFL coaches, including Dom Capers (a confused mess who couldn't manage a winning season in 5 years with the Houston Texans), Mike Mularkey (purportedly an "offensive genius," though he couldn't settle a quarterback controversy between the clueless J.P. Losman and mediocre Kelly Holcolmb for two years with the Buffalo Bills), Chan Gailey (an Dallas Cowboys head coach who fled criticism to Georgia Tech, where he can't get his students to play a complete 4 quarters or manage a game clock), and Jim Mora, Jr. (known to Atlanta Falcons' fans as "the man who ruined Michael Vick," he's every bit as bad as his father but without the entertaining press conferences).

So now the Dolphins have 2 or 3 more rebuilding years ahead, where the sputtering offense will have an ineffective overhaul as the aging defense falls apart under it's own weight. I'm starting to understand how Raiders fans feel.

Comments (0) | Leave a Comment | Tags: coaches dan marino daunte culpepper dave wannstedt dolphins don shula football jim bates jimmy johnson nfl nick saban orande gadsden rant ricky williams the greatest quarterback ever to play the game of football trivia wayne huizenga

I just returned home from my trip to Canton, Ohio, where Dan "The Greatest Quarterback of All Time" Marino was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. We were surrounded by thousands of Dolphins fans wearing Marino jerseys. The level of fanaticism was almost creepy.

Marino HOF

We drove through Amish country to get there. I was really quite surprised to see that there is still such a high demand for carriage & buggy shops. When you think about it, they are already compliant with President Bush's new energy plan, so maybe they are ahead of the game, not a more than a century behind it. (Vote Amish in 2008! They are no strangers to federal government; look at C. Everrett Koop.)

In fact, the Amish may be one of the last reamining groups that someone can carelessly insult on the internet. They certainly aren't going to find out what you flamed them about.

Comments (0) | Leave a Comment | Tags: canton dan marino dolphins hall of fame nfl quarterbacks religion the greatest quarterback ever to play the game of football

To be continued...

 

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