An icon falls…Tulip calls

My phone rang early this morning. It was Tulip calling from Vegas. I hadn’t heard from her since before the holidays, so I knew that something big was up.

“Hey Trop,” she said, “have you heard the news?” She started out like that, like we talked every day. Her voice was raspy and her speech a little slurred. I figured she’d been up all night.

“Well hello to you too, Tulip,” I said, “I thought you’d dropped off the map. Where are you anyway?”

“I’m staying at Bally’s,” she said, “but that could be temporary, depending…I drove over for the Super Bowl.”

“You drove,” I said, somewhat shocked, knowing Tulip’s aversion to distance driving, as well as the condition of her classically restored 1978 Ford LTD. “All the way from L.A.?”

“Times are a little tough right now,” she said, “I’m trying to save on airfare.” A few seconds of silence followed, and then I heard the flick of a lighter, and I knew she’d lit a fresh American Spirit. “But if you want some fodder for that blog of yours,” she continued, “just turn on the TV.”

I did as Tulip suggested and turned on Channel 6 News out of Miami. The news of the day was just shocking. Dan Marino, or ‘Dan-the-Man’ as he is so often affectionately referred to here in South Florida had fallen, and fallen hard — within the space of only a few hours. He’d plummeted from iconic sports hero to dirt bag extraordinaire. I am sure that all of my loyal readers know by now, that Dan by his own admission had an extramarital affair — one that resulted in the birth of a child. Dan doesn’t deny the allegations and has in fact admitted that he has supported both mother and child, and apparently very well.

If you don’t live in South Florida, then you might not realize how Dan Marino is idolized here. Oh, the guy has his detractors for sure. A contractor friend of mine who worked on Dan’s house told me that he was cold and distant (translated to arrogant asshole who wouldn’t sign an autograph), but for the most part Dan-the-Man has achieved hero status here. He is after all, the immortal number ‘13’ – the star quarterback for the Miami Dolphins who, back during their heyday led the team to greatness, including the yet to be challenged ‘undefeated season’, of 1972.

As many of we Dolphins fans watch grainy footage of Dan’s gridiron exploits on the stadium jumbo-tron during pre-game hoopla, we find ourselves hoping that someday our team might find another Marino, and in fact every quarterback fielded by the Dolphins is compared against the Marino yardstick…sigh…

So Dan Marino has fallen, or maybe not. So far, lovers by the score are not stepping forward (see Woods, Tiger), and for the moment it seems to be a private matter between Dan-the-Man and his family…so far…

So I think Tulip was wrong. There’s nothing to see here beyond another fallen athlete. I don’t think this story will grow legs. I told Tulip that when I called her later in the day.

“You’re wrong Trop,” she said. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

“Wanna bet,” I said. There was silence on the phone and  I thought better of it. “Forget I said that, what’s your pick for the Super Bowl?”

“Ravens by 3.”

“By 3?”

“Yeah, in overtime,” she said.

That’s Tulip.