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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The class of Dan Marino and Jimmy Johnson

PHOENIX -- The Super Bowl always brings together people from all parts of country and this one has done something I didn't know was possible.

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?

No.

But they are both classy guys and being cordial with one another and not holding a grudge was a perfect example of that class.

30 Comments:

Anonymous Randy said...

Nice write-up, Armando. But it absolutely begs the question: Did the Herald really pay for you to fly first class? ;-)

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee isn't that touching. So is this what 'class' means these days, two guys not holding a hateful grudge ten years later? I'd call it normal human nature. What's next, a warm hearted diaper changing story?

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Sunnunu said...

Excellent piece Armando. I doubt I would be able to read this anywhere else which is the reason I come here every day.

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do all the idiots have to be so jaded? I enjoyed this.

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thankx for the story Mando. Keep up the good work. Best Dolphins coverage around!

1:37 PM  
Anonymous FLPD said...

Dan was and continues to be my hero. He was always a class act. Jimmy I'm not too sure about. But it makes me feel good to know they don't hate each other anymore.

Pretty cool, Mando.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

C'mon Mando, enough with the touchy-feely stuff. Tell us how Danny Boy spit in "Coach's" drink when he got up to go to the bathroom..... LOL

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Trenton said...

Armando, when are you going to friggan' rip the current Dolphins president Brian Wiedermier for the stupidity he has presided over for so long?

The guy sucks and you don't take him to task for it. I have continually asked you why not and you don't respond. is this guy one of your sources that you have to protect him so much even though he brought us Cam Cameron and Rick Spielman?

Your lack of cojones in this matter is starting to piss me off.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I would hesitate to call Johnson a giant of dolphins history

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jimmy Johnson, "classy"? Please consult your dictionary.

This is the guy who stomped on the cereal box of "Flutie Flakes" -- the one wherein Flutie raised money and awareness for his sick child. This is the "class act" who was so petulant and insecure that he stripped Marino -- the best reader of defenses in the NFL -- of his ability to audible.

"Cordial," in this instance perhaps. But Johnson will never be classy.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous finheavenblows! said...

Jeff, I also hesitated about Johnson as a giant in Miami history, but the fact is he drafted players who the last couple of years were still the best players on the Miami roster (i.e. Jason Taylor)

He also made decisions that still impact the team today -- nearly a decade after he left. So you have to say he was a giant. A giant burr on the team's butt. But a giant.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

armando is ev erything that is wrong with the miami sports media

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post, Armando. I've grown tired of what-if trade scenarios and which bill parcells crony will be the next one hired as an assistant coach.

This was interesting. Very, actually.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Greg said...

Great Armando. How about an update on Hue Jackson's interview, or maybe whom the team plans to contact after the Super Bowl of anyone, or an update on Carmichael's situation in New Orleans?

3:08 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

'mando! Tell me about Ocho Stinko.

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Dolfan Girl said...

"armando is ev erything that is wrong with the miami sports media"

What the hell does that mean?

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all know Mandy wasn't in first class and this story was either relayed to him by a brother who works as a flight attendant or from one of his relatives flying in 3rd class with the chickens and other small farm animals.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Work Mando...tell the Herald no more vacations for u...been pretty boring without you...welcome back ..Go Fins!!

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jimmy Johnson still sucks.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Louis said...

Good Story, Mando. I think the situation was wrong for these two. I think in any other situation (other than a player/coach relationship), these guys could definitely be great friends. The problem: Jimmy had his eye on establishing a team that would stand the test of time. Danny wanted to win every time he stepped on the field. Those two concepts were mutually exclusive of one another at that time. But it's good to see that they're attempting to let by-gones by by-gones! That is class.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Ken said...

Thanks Mando, but now can you tell us who our offensive coordinator is going to be for 2008? I could care less right now about Marino and Johnson.

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Paparazzi Steve said...

I'm something of a papparrazi junkie. And as a South Floridian, I see celebrities everywhere all the time.

I was on this flight the other day -- going to Phoenix on business. I saw Marino and I saw JJ and, yes, I saw Armando. And yes, our boy was up there in first class.

Also looked up there one time and saw Marino talking to Armando or vice versa. What a life these reporters.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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."---awesome! can you imagine the look on jj's face?

5:06 PM  
Anonymous GoNewYorkFootballGiants!!!! said...

Armando, you always have great stuff! Can't make this stuff up. I especially like the fact that you always have the details, that others don't seem to communicate.

Yes, you were in the right place at the right time.

Go Giants!!!!!!!

11:52 PM  
Anonymous Dolfan Ray said...

Great story.
A tid-bit of post football sportsmanship.

Can someone explain to me why some people who seem to hate Armando keep reading his stories and then rip him in the comment section?

Let me see- "I hate Armando. Let me go read his stuff and then I get to call him out in the comment section, thus driving up his ratings and giving him more credibility, which I hate, and I'll do it all again tomorrow." Morons!

You rock Armando. Keep us interested readers informed, butha!

Go Dolphins!

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Cam Cameron said...

"Ken said...
Thanks Mando, but now can you tell us who our offensive coordinator is going to be for 2008? I could care less right now about Marino and Johnson."

You "couldn't" care less. If you "could" care less, that means that you actually do care. That's basic English that is even taught in Indiana.

This is a heart-warming story. Armando, I'd like to invite you to the afternoon poetry reading that Joseph Porter, Keith Traylor and I will be attending together next week.

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

at least this blog was not about wes welker and the other"former" dolphins that r playin in the super bowl.i'm tired of everybody swingin from welkers bal#s!!he's gone who cares move on.i for one will b glad when this super bowl is over and we can get back to covering the DOLPHINS!!!!!

8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

randy said

my question is: Why don't we ever hear these "insider" stories until years later? I would've liked to know about the interaction between these two in meetings. I knew they didn't get along, but I wasn't aware of the depth of their dislike for one another. Jimmy Johnson is not a HUGE historical figure for the 'Fins. He wasn't even with the team long enough, nor did he do anything worth remembering him for...other than running our greatest player off the team. It would've totally changed my thinking as I followed the team that year and would've helped me be prepared for the a$$kicking we took in the playoffs that year. What's up Armando?

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe if Jimmy was even half as successful drafting offensive players as he was with defensive talent during his Dolphin tenure, Marino's late career ability never would have come under scrutiny. Yatil Green, John Avery, Larry Shannon, Cecil Collins, JJ Johnson, etc. Ouch.

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An excellent blog entry. At last.

No rumors, boring Super Bowl filler or innuendo...but an appropriate blog entry.

Good4U Armando u are beginning to understand the nuanced differences...

2:15 AM  

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