Eye of the Hurricane

February 2, 2010

“Oh, what a night”

It was before the Miami/Virginia Tech men’s basketball game when I received news that I could attend “An Evening with UM Football Greats” at the Fontainebleau.

Yes, the Fontainebleau. As in the “it” spot last New Year’s Eve because Lady GaGa performed poolside.

After putting on a black dress I last wore for Homecoming during my sophomore year of high school (cocktail attire was required), I carpooled with some friends at UMTV.

Torrential downpours later, we valet parked and made our way through the picturesque hallways and snazzy lobby.

That’s when the craziness began.

A sign by the concierge detailed upcoming events during Super Bowl Week:

  • Black Eyed Peas concert
  • John Mayer concert
  • Dane Cook show
  • Maxim Party
  • Playboy Party
  • NFL Tailgate Party

Vince Young and I in the lobbyIf that wasn’t enough, a flock of kids surrounded none other than Tennessee Titans Pro Bowl quarterback Vince Young. Since I happened to be a few feet away, I decided to approach him and mentioned that I visited the University of Texas at Austin last Halloween and loved it. He shook my hand, smiled and took a photo with me.

Then I dropped the bomb: “Except I’m a Hurricane, sorry!” He laughed and walked off to sign more autographs for kids about half my age. How can one feel old at the age of 20?

Game-used footballs and helmetsA smoke tunnel led us inside the Fleur de Lis Ballroom where tables were designed in UM colors. Used footballs and Nike Pro Combat helmets were displayed in glass columns.

I don’t know an exact amount on how much money was raised, but five national championship rings (as a set) sold for $19,500. Around 500 people purchased $200 tickets to the event. The donations go to the Student-Athlete Scholarship Fund.

Jimmy Johnson was the moderator of the event, posing questions to three different panels of former players. Topics included Super Bowl memories, predictions on Sunday’s game and what it means to be a Hurricane.

Needless to say the night was one to remember.

The desserts were fantastic as was the conversation. There was a sense of optimism toward next season as head coach Randy Shannon received a stamp of approval from former teammate and roommate Michael Irvin and a standing ovation from the crowd.

Notable quotes/highlights from the night:

“The happiest time of my life was when I was coaching at the University of Miami,” Jimmy Johnson said. “Tonight is a lot about memories, talking about the success of the U. It’s also about the future.”

“I go home after every game to watch ESPN and I think it’s very entertaining for the game, but you won’t see me do it,” said Andre Johnson, who doesn’t celebrate after touchdowns. “The Pro Bowl was fun. I think we represented the University of Miami really well.”

Michael Irvin signs for fans.“Both of them are great experiences, but there’s something to be said about winning a national championship,” Michael Irvin said. “It’s got nothing to do with contracts or jobs. Play a game we love, play together.”

-Jimmy Graham said the he wouldn’t mind playing for the Miami Dolphins. I told him that would be great, since it’s my hometown team.

-Bennie Blades said that the U documentary was a great way for the current players to see what the former ones went through to win national championships.

-Former players in attendance were: Steve Walsh, Bennie Blades, Jon Beason, Jimmy Graham, Antrel Rolle, Kenny Phillips, Andre Johnson, Greg Olsen, Tavares Gooden, Edgerrin James, Santana Moss, Clinton Portis, Michael Irvin and Ed Reed.

-Olympian Lauryn Williams was there as was Dan Le Batard.

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