Thursday, May 14, 2020

Another Dolphin Tale

by Gayle Leeson

If you read last Thursday's post, you might recall that my husband is a Miami Dolphins fan. Well, many years ago, I was working as a freelance writer when I learned the Dolphins would be playing a pre-season game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte. Since Charlotte was only three hours from our home, we decided to take the kids down for an overnight trip to watch the game. Prior to the trip, I arranged to get press credentials and interview a couple of the players about their charities.

We were set. On game day, we checked into our hotel, picked up the tickets we'd bought, and then set off for the stadium. The Panthers have an impressive stadium [image used is not intended to infringe upon any copyright]. After getting my husband and the children settled in their seats, I went to the press box to pick up my credentials and to find out what I was supposed to do next.

The press box was amazing. Lots of food and cushy seats...oh, yeah, and a birdseye view of the game. Plus, there were television sets inside the press box--and some were not showing the game. Sorry for that digression, but I thought that was odd. The press box also led to the private suites.

I went down to the locker room area to wait outside for some of the players to emerge. As I waited, I joked with the security guard, and I told him about the cake that was in the press box. I promised to bring him a piece if I could sneak it out [I did!]. The two players I needed to speak with for my article wanted to wait and talk after the game, so I went back to check on my family.

They were fine, but my daughter needed to use the bathroom. I took her to one in the press area. On our way back, two tall men came down the hall.

I recognized one, gasped, and said, "Dan Marino!"

He turned and smiled. "Yes."

His friend told my daughter and me to "get over there, and I'll take your picture." This was when we used cameras to take photographs rather than phones. I handed him my camera, and we stood on either side of Dan Marino.

After taking the photograph, my daughter and I returned to the guys. Before we got there, I asked, "Do you know who that was?"

She shook her head. "Nope."

I laughed. "Well, you just go tell your daddy that you've been hugged up to Dan Marino and see what he says."

Well, I'll have you know, he did not believe my sweet baby girl! He thought we were pranking him.

Fast forward to after the game. Somehow in all the excitement, my camera was knocked from my hand. It came open. I quickly closed it but lamented the fact that my film was likely ruined. Now my husband would never know we hadn't been playing a joke on him. Luckily for me, an Associated Press photographer took my camera into a dark room and removed the film. [Most of the photos were fine, including the one of us with Dan Marino. I'd include it here, but it's in a photo album packed away.] I put a new roll of film into the camera, thanked the photographer for coming to my rescue, and went outside the darkroom.

I came out and looked around for my family. My daughter was standing with her dad. When I frantically scanned the area for my son, my husband proudly pointed. There he was standing with Dan Marino--and getting a football signed. I asked if I could take a photo of the two of them together. Mr. Marino said sure. I urged my husband to get over there, but he said he was fine where he was at.

On our drive home the next day, we stopped at a little shop where I bought some perfume. I regretted buying it an hour or so down the road because I felt it was too expensive.

"Honey, you made it possible for me to meet Dan Marino," my husband said. "You could've had anything in that store that you wanted."

"Well, turn around!"

He didn't. Notice he didn't tell me that before I went into the shop. He's no fool.

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