Man­ning-to-mi­ami talk heat­ing up in S. Florida

The Washington Times Daily - - Sports - BY TIM REYNOLDS

AVEN­TURA, FLA. | If Pey­ton Man­ning wants to talk about play­ing quar­ter­back for the Mi­ami Dol­phins, Dan Marino would be thrilled to take his call.

And just in case, Marino has his sales pitch ready.

“There’s great tra­di­tion there. We’ve had a cou­ple off years but be­lieve me, they’ll be back,” Marino said. “It’s a great fran­chise and they’ll get it turned around.”

Adding Man­ning al­most cer­tainly would help in that quest, which largely started when Marino re­tired more than a decade ago.

From the mo­ment the four-time MVP’S part­ing from the In­di­anapo­lis Colts be­came com­plete Wed­nes­day, buzz about Man­ning has been grow­ing in Mi­ami — much of it fu­eled by the quar­ter­back’s ar­rival in South Florida only a few min­utes af­ter he tech­ni­cally be­came an NFL free agent for the first time. Man­ning in­sists he does not know what his next move will be or even how this chap­ter of his life will work, and Marino be­lieves him.

“I think he fits with any­body,” Marino said Thurs­day at a char­ity golf tour­na­ment. “He’s one of the best to ever play the game at that po­si­tion. So wher­ever he ends up play­ing, if he’s healthy, which is go­ing to be im­por­tant to Pey­ton, I’m sure he wants to go out there and play at a high level. Wher­ever he plays, he’ll be a huge im­pact for that team.”

The Dol­phins are be­lieved to be one of the teams in­ter­ested in adding Man­ning, who al­ready has in­di­cated he doesn’t want to play for Washington.

Man­ning’s ar­rival in Mi­ami doesn’t seem to be a sign that the Dol­phins are the front-run­ners. He owns a condo in Mi­ami Beach, where tele­vi­sion crews were staked out Thurs­day.

Other than his fa­ther, Archie, and Su­per Bowl-win­ning brother Eli, “Dan Marino is my all-time fa­vorite quar­ter­back,” Man­ning said Wed­nes­day.

Marino said he was moved hear­ing that.

“It means a lot be­cause Pey­ton’s been great to me over the years and he’s been such a true pro and a very good friend,” Marino said. “It’s tough to see him not be­ing able to con­tinue his ca­reer [in In­di­anapo­lis]. . . . He’s a class act.”

Af­ter the Colts de­cided not to pick up Man­ning’s $28 mil­lion bonus, team owner Jim Ir­say ended months of spec­u­la­tion by re­leas­ing the 14-year veteran and long­time face of the fran­chise. In­di­anapo­lis is ex­pected to draft Stan­ford’s An­drew Luck with the first over­all pick.

Man­ning missed the 2011 sea­son be­cause of a dam­aged nerve that caused weak­ness in his right arm. He had the most re­cent of his mul­ti­ple neck surg­eries Sept. 8.

The Man­ning watch is con­sum­ing Mi­ami, even with the NBA’S Heat hav­ing one of the league’s best records, the newly re­named Mi­ami Mar­lins set to be­gin play in a $515 mil­lion down­town ball­park with an up­graded ros­ter next month, Tiger Woods and the world’s best golfers play­ing at Do­ral this week, even the NHL’S Florida Pan­thers in the mix for a play­off spot for the first time in years.

Ev­ery­one is watch­ing, or so it seems. Dwyane Wade reached out to Man­ning on Twit­ter, and Lebron James took time in a postgame tele­vi­sion in­ter­view to briefly sell Man­ning on the mer­its of South Florida. Will Marino call him? “I prob­a­bly wouldn’t do that un­less he asks for some ad­vice,” Marino said. “And he has plenty of peo­ple that he’s work­ing with to help him make the right de­ci­sions.”

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