Well, I finally did it. I searched him down just like the "Stalker Jr" I've become. A day with some free time, a phone call to a friend that also works at TFD, and on my second attempt I met the man. Curtis Johnson,....9 seasons with our Miami Dolphins, 2 Superbowl Rings, and a man that hales from my very own Toledo, Ohio. Curtis is a laid back man, I might even say mellow. However he was more than accommodating when I caught up to him at his second job working at the Toledo EMS dispatch center ( a common gig for the local firemen for some extra cash ).
The first thing I said to him was, " when I met Larry Little and told him I was from Toledo, the first thing he said to me was "Curtis Johnson" ". Curtis replied to me, " that doesn't surprise me, we where roommates." I go on to explain that I'm a huge Dolphins fan and proceed to show him some of my pictures with old teammates. Early in our conversation I mention "The Phinsider" and asked if I could do an interview. This stuck him a little odd it seemed and he declined with the look on his face. So, I shot the shit with him for about 45 minutes. I said I, I meant we. I bought my ice-breaker,...the Wifey. Although, throughout our conversation I planted some questions in the way of small talk.
Things like :
Q: Do you still follow the Dolphins ?
A: I have to, all of my family roots for them.
Q: Do you still have your rings and do you ever wear them ?
A: Yes, when my Wife makes me put them on or when I'm going to a special occasions when I know I'll be asked about them. ( to me, that's funny about the Wife )
Curtis was a DB, so I asked...
Q: What do you think of the young Dolphin corners ?
A: What are their names again ?
Here I realized that football was part of his past, and not part of who he is today. He told me about his Nephew that is a die-hard Dolphins fan that makes him go off to games occasionally. I said I would love to meet this guy, as he mentioned they might go to the Cincy game. I told him about the Toledo Dolphins Fanclub , The Phinsider and The Phinvaders,.....all of which he wrote down for future reference and to pass along to his his Nephew. Again I asked more questions.....
Q: What was the highlight of your 9 years in Miami ? ( dumb one, I know)
A: ( with a grin ) Come on now,....the '72 season.
Statement: I looked at your INT record, but never a TD.
A: I got a TD, blocked FG and ran that in for a TD.
If you know me, you know I had to bring up his 70's "super fro" . That thing was so large it didn't all make it into the picture. I whipped out an old football card of Dolphin team leaders,....he chuckled, my Wife about hit the floor. That in itself was worth the trip,....watching her bust a gut in front of the man.
We talked about all things Toledo, and he asked us lots of questions about ourselves. Curtis is a good dude. He would have to be, exchanging phone numbers and saying we should get together to watch a game. Problem; I'm leaving town shortly after week one ( Buffalo game). Here's where I tried to sell him on coming to Cincy for the Saturday night party and hanging with a bunch of Ohio Dol-fans,.....I think it just might be a maybe.
I asked some more questions.....
Q: Where is the worst city to play in ?
A: NY was crazy,....and so was Cleveland. We never took our helmets off in those places.
Q: When when you go to a game to your wear any Dolphins gear ?
A: No,...are you crazy ( with a chuckle). ( I replied,.....yes.)
I went on to ask about his Alumni jacket as he was down in Miami a couple of years ago. He responded, " Oh yeah, they did give me a jacket to wear,.....its at home somewhere." I mean the way he acted was as if just any old sports coat. I guess that would be the difference between a former player 35 years removed from his glory days and a die-hard fan. I know where my spray paint version is,.....right where I left it,....with "The Motherload" in my Mom's basement.
Talking further about Miami back then, he said it was nothing like the Miami of now. He compared it to Toledo in size of all things. Saying it was kind of like some up and coming hick town. The team took a bus tour around the city during their 35th reunion and him and the other players who no longer live down the there didn't recognize the place. It grew, he said it was nothing like this when he was there.
I asked about cold weather games back then. He said the NFL schedule was different, "we played up North early in the season and didn't see to many cold weather games". He went on, "but when they came down to Miami, that was a huge advantage to us, and we played on astro-turf which made it even hotter".
At the end of the day, I am one happy Dol-Fan. Finally meeting the Toledoan from the '72 team and he couldn't have been nicer. He signed my mini helmet, entertained my star-crossed ass, and offered to watch a game together. In my book, that's an awesome day !
So without further ado,......I give you Curtis Johnson ! 2X Superbowl winner, Toledoan,.........and me !!!