>The Ringers

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Ah, what could have been. I’ve thought about the what ifs in life over and over again. Like, what if I had Dan Marino and Ronnie Brown on my flag football team? What if, indeed…

As it happens, I’ve run into these pro athletes and a few more during my years in South Florida. And yes, I have little shame when it comes to asking them to lend me their talents, their 4.40 speed (well, maybe not Marino) every Thursday night for one hour. I mean, is that too much to ask? Here’s a recap of who I’ve asked and what they’ve had to say.

Offer #1: Ronnie Brown, Pro Bowl running back for the Miami Dolphins
How the negotiations went: I was actually interviewing Ronnie for an article for the magazine I work at. Toward the end of the interview, I managed to casually slip a “oh by the way, I play flag football.”
His response: “Ah, man, I don’t think I can. You know, contracts and all.” First off, Ronnie Brown has to be one of the nicest people on the planet, and I can tell saying “no” is very hard for him to do anyways. Second, he didn’t actually say no… I’m still holding out, Ronnie.

Offer #2: Yatil Green, wide receiver and former first-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins
How the negotiations went: I was actually in Orlando at a conference when I ran into Yatil. He thought I looked familiar, thought I went to school with him. I actually had no idea who who this guy was, much less a very hyped college receiver. “What school did you go to?” I asked. Miami, he said. “Nah, I didn’t go to Miami, I went to UF,” I told him. “But that’s cool you went to Miami.” (Note: I was just being friendly to a stranger. It is NOT cool if you went to the University of Miami. I’m just sayin’…) Then he said, “Yeah, I used to play ball down here.” My response, “Oh, you played basketball?” “No, football,” he said. “Football?!” I asked. “Well, do you want to play co-ed flag football with me?”
His response: “I wish I could, but my knees are all torn up.” Turns out it was a good decline for our flag football team. I later found out how troubled Yatil’s knees were and how they basically ended his football career.

Offer #3: Dan Marino, pro bowler and former NFL MVP
How the negotiations went: I was at a gala honoring Wayne Huizenga this past fall and was waiting patiently in line at the bar. Dan the Man saunters up (presumably to cut in line), and he stands right next to me for a solid five seconds. Then, well, out gushes my praise of him. I told him I grew up watching him and O.J. McDuffie, growing up in Jacksonville, Fla., he and the Dolphins were my team as a kid, I told him that I attribute everything I know about football to him. And of course the inevitable question of, “Hey, will you play flag football with us? came up.
His response: “Well, I can’t really run around anymore. My knees don’t work the same way.” Much like Ronnie Brown, Dan the Man didn’t say no. I’m still waiting for an answer, Dan…

Offer #4: Louis Oliver, owner of the 103-yard pick-6 against Jim Kelly
How the negotiations went: My friends were playing in a friendly flag football tourney at Sunlife Stadium in which each team had a former NFL player coach them. My friends’ coach was – you guessed it – Louis Oliver. So, I’m hanging on the sidelines, just chilling, when the idea strikes me to ask Louis to play on our team. “So, what do you normally do on Thursdays?” I ask.
His response: “Yeah, maybe. I mean, I gotta see.” Again, he didn’t say no…

Offer #5: Channing Crowder, University of Florida great and Dolphin linebacker (pictured with Chicago Bears safety Major Wright and Miami Dolphins receiver Davone Bess)
How the negotiations went: I was at an opening of the uber-awesome Dos Caminos restaurant last week in Fort Lauderdale, when it was as if the seas parted and Channing Crowder’s dreads came into perfect view. It must be stated I’m a huge Channing Crowder fan. Think what you may of his antics, I love the way he plays, and I love how he’s just plain emotional.
His response: “I’m not that good at pulling flags, though!”

All in all, I’d have a sick flag football team if I could have somehow made those offers more meaningful. As they say in sports, there’s always next season.

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