I was born in Miami and lived there until I was 20. After attending my first game at age 4, I became a fan,. I don’t have any real memories of anything before I started school at age 5, except 2 from my first game. From these 2 pictures in my head I can still see that old Orange bowl scoreboard off to my left on the other end of the field that read 20-20 (vs Raiders preseason), and the opposing teams bench with Howard Twilley falling down into it, breaking his leg. The benches were built into the ground like a baseball dugout.
The Shula era kicked off in grand fashion for me, it started with a season preview of the Dolphins at my church in Miami Lakes, they talked about how the savior and member of our church Don Shula was coming to Miami to coach the Dolphins. My last up close and personal meet and greet with Shula was in the late 70s on the Don Shula show. My mom worked for Eastern Airlines and somehow got tickets to the show, there were only about 2 other people there with me on stage with Shula, Tony Nathan and the host of the show. I got to talk to him after the show, it was one of the highlights from my youth.
My family got season tickets (1970), 3 on the 6 yard line upper deck, 2nd to last row on the northwest end, and 2 my dad got from his work around the 35 yard line, also northwest end, and next to the guy that used to wave the Garo sign every time he kicked. For 7 straight years I never missed a home game, and saw all of the road games on TV. By 1976 the team had their first losing season under Shula and we decided to give up the tickets, mainly due to my dad’s company not giving him the 2 free tickets.
I stopped going to the games, but didn’t stop watching every game. In 1981 after graduating high school I got this fantastic job, selling cokes at the OB, well almost. I never sold any, just used my badge to get in free. In Sept 1983 I left Miami and moved to Burbank, Ca., about the same time Marino was starting his first game. I wondered, if I would remain a fan, but Marino’s greatness sealed that fate, and it didn’t hurt that in 1984 the Fins played the Los Angeles Raiders in L.A.
In 1983 still having my pass to get into games, I flew back to Miami and went to a Monday Night game against the Bengals. Nine of us got in free with the 3 passes. It was easy back in those days, since you could walk right up to the fence in the open end zone and hand the pass out. Quite an interesting night, I sat in front of Jimmy Conners and rainbow head (john 3 16), not sure why those 2 were sitting together. One of my friends had 4 guys try to take him out after he hit their buddy in the chin, creating a cleft chin (blood was pouring out), but he turned around with his fists in the air, back and forth and no one would hit him, 2 of us were standing outside the circle though. Another friend got kicked out for going on the field. On the plane ride home the next day I sat in front of Howard Cosell and Sparky Anderson, and behind the secretary from the Bob Newhart show, which was typical in those days flying to L.A.
Around the year 2000 I found a fan site online at the Sun Sentinel, way before Omar’s time there. Guys like FinFan Rob, Phinmanski, and Myth99 were also on that board. The format was just open forum, it was actually pretty good, and not much different than what we have today, except no login, so you could use whatever name. There were about 10 regulars and a few trolls, but the format being as simple as it was, was pretty good. After the mass exodus a few years ago, here we are today still waiting for our next SB title.