Did you know? Dan Marino, the Hall of Fame record-setter often considered one of the best NFL quarterbacks of his generation alongside Joe Montana and John Elway, almost made a venture into free agency like Peyton Manning did this past offseason.
“I was a free agent my last year before I retired, so I thought about maybe playing other places,” Marino said. “It was moreless, playing 17 years, I probably could have played one more year. I might have been stretching it a little bit, plus with injuries it felt like it was time to retire and not play.
“But I definitely thought about it because it never leaves you. Even now, 10, 11 years I’m done playing, you still feel like when it comes the season and the games start playing you can do it even though I can’t. It never leaves your body.”
Before Marino signed with the coach Don Shula and the Miami Dolphins and had a lengthy NFL career, coming out of college at Pittsburgh there was an opportunity out west in the USFL.
Johnson City Press sportswriter Joe Avento saw the then-top pick of the USFL Draft up close and personal at L.A. Express cheerleading tryouts and had the following exchange with Marino:
Avento asked: “Did you ever go through that before the NFL with the USFL? I remember you were the first pick in the USFL.”
“No one’s brought that up in awhile man,” Marino laughed.
“I was at the L.A. cheerleader tryouts and you were there,” Avento said.
“Oh, you were,” said Marino. “I was with the Six Million Dollar man picking out the cheerleaders.”
“They were comparing you guys,” Avento said.
“Lee Majors,” Marino recalled. “Yeah it was. That’s good memories”
Continued Avento: “How serious was that? They were offering some money…”
“Yeah, a little bit,” said Marino. “Yeah, not enough though.”
“It was good enough for Steve Young,” Avento added.
“But not enough for me,” quipped Marino.
PEARL, COMING SOON TO A TV NEAR YOU?
Former University of Tennesse basketball coach Bruce Pearl spent much of the early moments of the day chatting it up with current Vols coach Cuonzo Martin.
The two sat atop the seating area for celebrities and Pearl has made it clear Martin has his support.
Currently mired in the middle of a show cause penalty, assessed by the NCAA, Pearl is unable to coach without cause until the 2014-15 season.
Pearl says he misses certain aspects of coaching and is proud of what he accomplished at Tennessee.
“I miss being around the student-athletes,” Pearl said. “I miss the coaches. I miss breaking down the film. I miss being in the office with a player who’s struggling with his girlfriend or not competing hard enough in the classroom or wanting more playing time, just that interaction.
“I loved being on a college campus because I used to speak in classes and try to connect with 30,000 students somehow, someway knowing we were providing a form of entertainment. I loved to challenge them, I liked to talk to all of the students and challenge them to be the best they can be and take advantage of this time in their lives make an investment in their future.
“I was a pretty good coach. I don’t think that was too much of it. I thought our kids always competed pretty hard. I’m proud of what we accomplished at Tennessee and proud to be the former basketball coach there.”
Given he’s unable to paint his body, cheer in the student section, wear an orange blazer and motivate players and fans from the sideline, Pearl has channeled his energy in a different direction, hosting a basketball show weekly on Sirius/XM Channel 91.
“I crossed over to the dark side,” Pearl said. “I enjoy it. It’s not work to me to have to talk about college basketball. It’s a joy, it’s a pleasure and it keeps me close to the game.”
Pearl is hoping to bring that energy across the television set with a gig at ESPN, noting Monday that it isn’t confirmed yet, but something he would love to do.
“I hope I get a chance to maybe call games for ESPN this year and stay in the game and maybe bring some of that same passion and love of the game to the viewers at home,” Pearl said. “But that’s not a done deal yet. I’d love to do it, but we’ll see.”
BEAMER SUPPORTS PLUS-ONE MODEL
It took a big loss to an SEC team to convince Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer that the plus-one model was the right thing to do as far as college football’s postseason was concerned.
In 2005, the Virginia Tech Hokies fell to a talented, undefeated Auburn team that was shutout of the national title picture due to unbeaten seasons from both Oklahoma and USC.
That loss told the coach that things needed to change, and change appears to be coming following last week’s vote by conference presidents.
“I became a guy that believed that when we played Auburn in the Sugar Bowl,” Beamer said. “Because there were three undefeated teams that year and they were one of them. They deserved to play for a national championship and were good enough to play for a national championship. At that time, that’s when I really believed we needed a format like we’re talking about going to.
“I think it’s going to be good for college football. I think it’s the right way to go. I’ve always been a bowl guy and hopefully we’ll always keep our bowls going, but this is the right way to go.”