Any normal person had a fucked up Friday. How does one wrap their head around such madness ? I just can't imagine the pain that those involved are going through, and the idea of me ( or anyone ) having fun seemed in bad taste. However, life does go on and I woke up Saturday, worked a half day then headed over to Ft Lauderdale.
Plans were in place for this weekend long ago. Another Toledoan that is a diehard DolFan, Mike, was making his yearly trip here, but with one major difference. On this trip he was bringing his 9 year old son Jake to his very 1st Dolphins game. Mike goes all out for his trip and is a bit of a stalker too as his collection is impressive with a man cave that is a thing of beauty. He reserves a room where the Dolphins stay the night before the game and his seats are on the field in the end zone. If you ask me,....those are what I call 1st class accommodations all the way around. And with a 9 year old in tow. In retrospect, the 90+ minutes I spent with them was just what the doctored ordered. I needed to see some genuine, innocent giggles & smiles of a child.
Those in the know knew that there was going to be a small army of alumni in attendance as well as the '72'ers. So I had to make a stop to see the man who taught me all I know about meeting players and getting signed memorabilia, Steve AKA "The Stalker". We haven't hung out much since I joined The Deep End, but for my 1st 3 years coming down thats who I ran with. It was good to see him as his story goes that Zach Thomas hooked him up with suite tickets for the game. Weird how I have surrounded myself with the most hardcore, intense, crazy ass Dolfans around,....but that's how it just worked out. The whole birds of a feather thing in effect. Anyways,...i was dropping off a few pictures that I thought he would have a better shot at getting signed than me. After a couple beers I called Mike who was staying just around the corner from Steve's place. Here I got some bad news.
The sheriff on duty informed Mike that even though he was a guest at the hotel he couldn't hang where the players walked from the meetings across the parking to the building where their rooms were. Well hell,...I still had to come by for a visit as I had a parking pass for him. Once there I met Mike & Jake outside there building which was 150ft from the players 2 buildings. So the place was laid out with several buildings with guest rooms and one main building that had conference rooms, restaurant & lounge, lobby/front desk, and a spa. They had already score Jake 3 autographs on his ball, while Mike said they kept getting shooed off. We chatted a bit there then decided we would go to the lounge to kill an hour and try our luck again. Here Mike & I grabbed a beer while Jake got a big bowl of chocolate ice cream. I like kids, they make me laugh and they are easy to make laugh. Again it was an incredible feeling just to be in his presence. After a bit Mike had to piss or something and he excused himself for a moment. And in that moment I walked over to one of the two massive salt water fish tanks all for the purpose of watching the wonderment of child when observing something new & different. While the country tries to make sense of the madness, I was savoring this moment. Mike returned and we hatched our plan, walk back to his building. Once there, we hatched a new plan,....try walking over by the players building again.
Great pic to start off the weekend, I just wish I would have looked better at it as I wish it was in focus. We only stood there for another 15-20 minutes before some of the players started to filter out of their meetings.
The first player we encountered was former Miami Hurricane and Miami Dolphin rookie Olivier Vernon. Jake standing there with a ball in his hand was hard to refuse and players walked over during the next 30 minutes or so. It was just the three of us Jake, Mike, & myself. Mike & I were taking a backseat to Jake getting his ball signed but I managed a few things during that time. Like this photo,..
I broke the ice with mentioning my buddy Twan Russell, who works for the Dolphins and is also a former Cane & Fin. From there I got straight to the point. "can you do me a favor ?" I asked,...."can you guarantee a win ?". He said yes without hesitation. Obviously he knows what he is taking about. And I told him I was quoting him and that it was going out there in cyberspace to all to hear. So there ya go ! Good call kid,....good call !!
Then Matt Moore & Koa Misi showed up,....
Here I got in some small talk and I mentioned I was in NY. Straight away they said " you're the guy with the bike",...so I asked for a pic too.
Soon after more players rolled by to sign Jake's ball including Fasano & R Jones. I had pictures with both of them form before and I managed to get those signed. I told Fasano I loved his style and asked if he would go do some damage. Apparently he was already planning on it. At the mention of Notre Dame he certainly seemed like a damn proud alumni. I told him this Buckeye would pull for the Irish as South Bend is pretty close to Toledo.
Jake ended up with 14 autographs that night and got another 25 or so in the morning. It was a good night. Seeing a old friend, watching his kid make a life long memory ( which in turns is a life long memory for me ), and adding to my own collection as well. Yes,....it was a very good night.
By 9:30 I was back at the car to get set up shop along with the usual cast of characters.
By 11:00 I headed up to Joe Robbie Plaza ( at Joe Robbie Stadium,....geez ) as I had a feeling that is where a bunch of alumni was going to enter the stadium. And boy oh boy did I make a good call here. More '72'ers came by than I could get pictures with or talk to. But here we go !!!
On the RIght is #86 Marlin Briscoe and I haven't pinned down the guy on the Left just yet,...but I will. The Funny thing is they wanted a picture with Tanya and this is the pic I got after they got theirs,....too cool.
Tanya told me that on more than once someone would ask here if she works for the Dolphins. The answer is no, but she sure should,......we both should !
'73 Fin Don Nottingham
Of course my buddy was Steve was lurking about the whole time do his thing too. Like I said There was so many alumni walking around that it was dizzying. While I didn't pic a pic with Steve I bump into my dog Dolfan Bandit Manny.
While chatted with Him I noticed the ever elusive,....#13 Jake Scott the MVP of Super Bowl 7.
I love the hardcore fans,....LOVE THEM !!! While it is sad that's he's missing his leg from a freak accident, it is totally cool how he custimized his socket. And then there was this dude too ( more on him later ).
I had yet to really eat anything and I had about 40 minutes to roll back to the tailgate before the Walk of Honor ceremony was going to take place. And look who shows up before they head into the stadium fro pre-game warm-ups. Mike & Jake !!! In matching Reggie Bush jerseys !!!
He too has a thing for signs it seems,....
However, one of the things that seemed really important to Mike was to get a group picture for Jake. Done and done,...with pleasure !
The time was flying by and it was time to head up for the Walk of Fame ceremony. Soon as we got back up there I ran into the big man,.....Mr Ross !
Those are some genuine smiles right there, and I manage to quickly tell Mr Ross about how I won my own HOF bust. I don't talk to many billionaires, but I did on this "perfect" day.
I just knew i was going to get a bunch of pics signed today. Here I catch up with "Super" Duper.
I am on cloud 9, and it's not even 11:30 yet !
Don Strock, Tim Bowens, And with his back turned AJ Duhe.
Buoniconti, Warfield, & Griese
Here I would have placed the video of the 10 minute ceremony in the post except I'm having problems uploading it to Youtube. Hopeful I can get it online soon as it is F'n awesome !!!
After the ceremony I got more pictures. Jim Kiick,...
AJ Duhe and his front side,...
I think the Canes fans in the audience will know this man, Howard Schnellenberger.
Here I ran into another one our our members. "You're OFF4L,...I read your posts over at the Phinsider". My mind was in a million different places, so forgive me when I say I forget your name. I hope you got some use out that sharpie.
Here I have to go back to the Pats game and give another shout out. Again names escape me, but here we have another member that just got married and took his honeymoon in Miami to see his 1st Dolphins game ever. Pretty cool stuff,....congrats our our new life together.
Time was flying by and before I knew it found myself in the front row in The Deep End. Membership has it's perks,....
Sean Smith showing the love to all the local football all-stars. Classy move Mr Smith, very classy,...
Prior to the national anthem they had a moment of silence for those lost on Friday.
If you like that shot of the net,...wait til you see this one.
Lots of teams can roll out 5 HOF'ers to be honorary captains, but none of them can bring them from the same undefeated Super Bowl winning team.
Worst picture of Coach Shula ever coming off the field,....but kinda funny.
TD,....that dude has the life !
#39 ZONK !
Another out of focus shot. I can't see the screen half the time due to the glare from the sun.
I didn't know these guys but I thought they had made into the wrong section,....
More cheerleaders !!!
You got your game face one ? YES !!!
'72 cheerleaders,...something is about to go down right beneath us !!!
Halftime was upon us and we could see the 1st golf cart carrying the '72'ers. The one video I was able to upload isn't a video at all. But a misfire where the camera is pointed at the ground and I am caught thanking them.
Here again I am having the biggest F'n problem !!! I got the 10 minutes halftime ceremony, all be it shot thru the netting by the goal post. I was yelling my ass off as it was to save my life for them to bring down the netting, but it was left up during halftime. And soon as the game started down it came. F'n slackers,....where is the comment box at the stadium. Oh well,....for some damn reason I can't get two 10 minute videos to upload to Youtube in a timely fashion. Our connection is jacked up, or my old shitty point & shoot camera has issues,......any tech types out there ??? I'm lost on the problem here. Moving forward,.....
The '72 Miami Dolphins,....they are the reason many, many of us became fans. From places near and far many of became lifelong Miami Dolphins fans because of these men. For that I will always be grateful,....
Bring 'em out !!!
This day was filled with emotion everywhere you looked and the strength of the human spirit was apparent.
Cue the un-uploadable clip now please,......
Well, that was cool ! Now come on back,....
Manny Fernandez,....he's loving it ! And look at Little's hardware,....I do believe he sports a HOF ring & the '72 ring.
There he is,....#82, Otto Stowe. He likes my Wife,.....hehehehehe. And who doesn't ????
Wait,...what ?? How did that get here !??
Curtis,....you are a champion !
That was almost too incredible ( at least for this fan ) !!! And today our current Dolphins were taking care of business, the energy was palpable. I had staked my claim to the front row long enough, so I fell back. Actually, one of the best spots in The Deep End is standing in the back on the steps. So that is where I went, right by our entrance. And who shows up,....the guy with the funny hat & Dolphins license plates. No wristband,......emmmmm,...." come on in, you look great". Then my painted dudes show up a few minutes later,.....but security bounced them. Time pull some strings,........as if,......
I find out they're here on vacation from Mexico and 60 seconds later I find a bunch of grown ups acting like kids,.....go figure.
Everybody was happy,....some more than others,....
Talk about a feel good moment,....get a room,....
The Dolphins won, everyone was happy, and I headed out to meet back up with Steve. Man oh man,....as far as getting autographs on some of my 8x10 pictures, I got a bunch. Pictures I have been carrying around for years. Fasano w/ Akin Adele, Duper w/ Jensen, Bob Baumhower, Garo Yepremian, Dwight Stephenson w/ 3 members of the '72 team, Mike Dee & Nat Moore from the DCC weekend. My signed photo collection got a huge shot in the arm today and I would have never started it if it were not for my buddy Steve. These pictures, in large part, come from what I learned following him around town and here at the stadium the first few years I came down here.
THANKS BUDDY !
This is us at the last event at The Orange Bowl and I'll give you a small sample of his genius. While sitting there talking after the game he says, "don't you need Baumhower ??? Well,...there he is about 50 ft behind you." The final autograph of the weekend and from an alumni member that donated to my DCC cause. And some conclusion,....Bob wasn't born in Toledo, but spent 14 years in the area living in the Bedford area ( suburb just North of the state line in Michigan ), and still has plenty of relatives up there.
While heading back to the car I came across this motorcycle. Not really the ending I was looking for but it was "Super" cool !!!
What an wild ride it has been and I'll be right back at Joe Robbie this next Sunday. Laughing, smiling, and having a good time. Life is way to short not too,....