The class of Dan Marino and Jimmy Johnson
It brought Dan Marino and Jimmy Johnson together.
That's right, the two men who spent much of the 1999 Dolphins season feuding in a match of huge egos and huge reputations, are at least cordial these days.
If you think back to the 1999 season, that's when Johnson wanted and, indeed, threatened to bench Marino. Marino's answer to one such threat from the coach during a meeting in Johnson's office was basically, "(Expletive) you. It's your team. Do whatever the (expletive) you want."
And with that Marino got up and walked out.
Well Johnson never followed through with his threats and there were even some indications that he thrust Marino back into the lineup prematurely following a hip injury with the idea that Marino would fail. He didn't. Marino led the Dolphins to the second round of the AFC playoffs where Miami lost 62-7 to Jacksonville.
That would be the final game Johnson coached and Marino played.
Months later when the Dolphins held a Marino farewell at then-Pro Player Stadium, Johnson was not invited to attend by the quarterback. I don't know if the two talked since that January 2000 day when each went off into retirement.
But on Monday evening, there they were, sitting in the first class section of American Airlines flight 1007. When they were boarding, Johnson greeted Marino with a "There he is," and both shook hands.
They sat across the aisle from one another and, although they didn't converse at length during the flight, they did chat for a couple of minutes. Johnson even offered Marino an adapter so he could plug in a computer on which he was watching a movie.
After the flight, Johnson, who works for FOX, told the story of covering the NFC championship game in Green Bay and pouring water into a cup of water and watching it freeze by halftime. Marino, who was in town briefly to tape his HBO show, chuckled at the story and actually called Johnson, "coach."
Anyway, I relate this story because it warmed my soul that what was a bitter professional relationship in the end has not festered over the years. Are these giants of Dolphins history buddies?
But they are both classy guys and being cordial with one another and not holding a grudge was a perfect example of that class.