Tuesday, September 4, 2012

NFL cutdown day mostly forgettable experience

On the eve of another NFL season, players are still getting cut even though final cutdown day was supposedly last Friday.
One of the latest was David Garrard, a pretty good quarterback not long ago for Jacksonville, who was released Monday by Miami.
I witnessed quite a few of those final cuts by the Dolphins back in the day.
It was an uncomfortable role during 20-plus years of covering the Don Shula era for three different newspapers in South Florida.
There'd a flock of us outside the locker room main door at St. Thomas University in Opa Locka, waiting like buzzards for the newly released player to emerge.
Occasionally, an ex-Dolphin would try to slip out a back way, get spotted and a TV crew or two would go scurrying after him.
Most, though, exited that main door and faced a final interrogation.
It was awkward as heck.
The player usually had a big plastic garbage bag filled with his gear slung over his shoulder and he'd talk en route to his car for a fast getaway from this place.
Some would stop and try to share their feelings.
Others just split with nary a word.
Couldn't blame them.
Cutdown day was a downer.
I do remember one light moment, though.
It was back in 1989 and the Dolphins had been through a difficult training camp.
John Offerdahl, a fabulous young linebacker going in his fourth NFL season, was locked in an acrimonious contract holdout.
So was Sammie Smith, their No. 1 pick, the Florida State running back.
After finishing 6-10 the year before and missing the playoffs yet again, things did not bode well for the 1989 Dolphins.
The vibes were bad.
So when this particular player barged through the locker room door, scowling as usual, the media mob parted before him like the Red Sea.
Nobody made a peep.
Except me.
I couldn't resist.
"Hey," yours truly said. "Make the team?"
"Yeah," the player snapped as he strode by.
It was Dan Marino.

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