114 // BIG FISH

Ocean Drive - - Contents March 2017 - BY JON WARECH

Su­per Bowl-win­ning head coach Jimmy John­son hosts a $1 mil­lion fish­ing tour­na­ment and four-day party in the Keys.

SU­PER BOWL- AND NA­TIONAL COL­LEGE CHAM­PI­ONSHIP-WIN­NING HEAD COACH JIMMY JOHN­SON HOSTS A $1 MIL­LION FISH­ING TOUR­NA­MENT AND FOUR­DAY PARTY IN THE KEYS.

Al­ways game for a lit­tle com­pe­ti­tion, leg­endary foot­ball coach and Fox NFL Sun­day an­a­lyst Jimmy John­son hosts the sixth an­nual edi­tion of Jimmy John­son’s Quest for the Ring Cham­pi­onship Fish­ing Week, tak­ing place March 8–11 in Key Largo. The con­test in­cludes the two-day Na­tional Bill­fish Cham­pi­onship, with many of the best an­glers in the coun­try com­pet­ing for a guar­an­teed purse of $1 mil­lion. John­son sat down with Ocean Drive to talk com­pet­i­tive fish­ing, foot­ball, and life in the Keys.

Can fish­ing be as com­pet­i­tive as foot­ball?

It’s not as com­pet­i­tive as when I was coach­ing foot­ball, for the sim­ple rea­son that I don’t want to fish un­less I can en­joy it and re­lax. There wasn’t a whole lot of re­lax­ing in the play­offs and when you’re win­ning Su­per Bowls. But with $1 mil­lion on the line, it must be hard to re­lax.

It’s hard-core. Semi­nole Hard Rock Ho­tel & Casino stepped up and de­cided this year to guar­an­tee a purse of $1 mil­lion, which makes it the largest in the coun­try. But you can still re­lax and it’s still a fun tour­na­ment. The din­ners and lun­cheons are great, but

ob­vi­ously a lot of the char­ter boat cap­tains and top fish­er­men from around the coun­try come into the tour­na­ment. Speak­ing of fun, is your day job with Fox as en­joy­able as it looks? We have a ball. Terry Brad­shaw is one of my clos­est friends. We fly out to LA and we have three TVS set up there in the ho­tel room, so we watch col­lege foot­ball all day on Satur­day and then do the show on Sun­day. Terry Brad­shaw, Howie Long, and I started Fox NFL Sun­day 23 years ago. Of course, I took off four years to coach the Dol­phins, but we’ve been do­ing it a long time. Our rat­ings are through the roof. I think we beat the com­pe­ti­tion by al­most 50 per­cent this year. It’s been that kind of dom­i­nance ever since we started the show. You were pretty dom­i­nant at the Univer­sity of Mi­ami. What’s your great­est mem­ory from your time coach­ing at UM? We had such a great run. I think we lost two reg­u­larsea­son games in four years. What peo­ple don’t re­al­ize is that be­cause we were in­de­pen­dent, dur­ing my last cou­ple of years I think we played 12 teams that were in the top 15. Nowa­days ev­ery­body is on tele­vi­sion, but back then you might have one big na­tional game. But ev­ery other week, we were on na­tional tele­vi­sion play­ing Flor­ida, Flor­ida State, Michi­gan, Notre Dame, Ok­la­homa, on and on. It was a lot of vis­i­bil­ity, and with the suc­cess that we had, it brought in good play­ers. I’m still a huge fan of UM, and I think they’re get­ting bet­ter, but that was a dif­fer­ent era… Even Alabama doesn’t have the sched­ule and vis­i­bil­ity we had back then. You live in the Keys. How much time do you spend fish­ing? Dur­ing the foot­ball sea­son, I’ll try to fish once, some­times twice a week. In the off-sea­son, I’m on the wa­ter more—some­times it’s boat­ing, some­times it’s lob­ster fish­ing. I do quite a bit of en­ter­tain­ing. I can’t count the num­ber of NFL own­ers, gen­eral man­agers, and head coaches we’ve had come down to visit. Bill Belichick comes down ev­ery off-sea­son and spends time with me. What’s the best way to spend a day in the Keys? It’s all go­ing to in­volve wa­ter. First you stop at Jimmy John­son’s Big Chill (104000 Over­seas Hwy., Key Largo, 305-4539066; jjs­bigchill.com), and then you go across the street to Pen­nekamp Coral Reef State Park and do some snor­kel­ing or div­ing. Then you can go a lit­tle far­ther south and grab one of the char­ter boats at Hol­i­day Isle or Duck Key and do some fish­ing. It’s such a beau­ti­ful drive all the way to Key West. Jimmy John­son’s Quest for the Ring Cham­pi­onship Fish­ing Week takes place March 8–11; visit jj­fish­week.com for a full sched­ule and more in­for­ma­tion.

As head coach of the rniver­sity of Mi­ami eu­r­ri­canes, the team he led to a na­tional col­lege foot all cham­pi­onship in 1987, Jimmy John­son walks out onto the field at the Mi­ami lrange Bowl.

Con­tender One of Con­tender Boats, a pre­sent­ing spon­sor of the tour­na­ment, and Weez in the Keys, the 2M15 champ. TOƩ RIGHT: The rniver­sity of Mi­amids then-pres­i­dent, aonna Sha­lala, hon­ors John­son (form­ing the col­legeds “r” sign) for his in­duc­tion into the Col­lege coot all eall of came in 2M12. BOTTOƦ RIGHT: John­son flanked

y iarry Mullin, Cll of Semi­nole dam­ing, and eenry mis­ano, its sm of player de­vel­op­ment.

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