Now Fiedler's accurate throws (no interceptions in his past four full games) and timely scrambles (with 214 rushing yards, he has a chance to break David Woodley's single-season team record for a quarterback, 272) are winning over the skeptics—including HBO broadcaster Marino, who before the season criticized Wannstedt's decision to start Fiedler over Damon Huard. Fiedler's teammates are most impressed with his toughness. He has fought through injuries to his hip, neck, shoulder and back, the last of which nearly forced him to miss an Oct. 29 home game against the Packers.
After leading the Dolphins to a 28-20 victory that day, Fiedler, who last Friday proudly wore a gray JEWISH SPORTS HALL OF FAME T-shirt in the Miami locker room, heard his teammates kvelling about his guts. In contrast, the two women closest to Jay—his mother, Donna, and longtime girlfriend Jennifer Ekstrand—viewed him as meshuga. Kept up most of the night of Oct. 28 by back spasms, Fiedler had paid an 8 a.m. visit to Doctors' Hospital in Coral Gables, where he was X-rayed as a precaution. Four hours later, as he was suiting up in the locker room, his cell phone rang. Donna and Jennifer, who were in a Pro Player Stadium concourse, demanded an explanation. "They had heard an exaggerated version—that I was rushed to the hospital the night before—and were worried about my playing," Jay says. "They knew I'd go out there even knowing I shouldn't, and they wanted to make sure I didn't do anything too stupid."
If Donna had any motherly advice after Sunday's game against the Bills, the man of the moment was in no position to hear it. Encircled by the neon-coated guards protecting him from the screaming Dolphins fans outside the stadium, Fielder turned round and round while repeatedly asking, "Where are my parents?" Finally he pulled out a cell phone and dialed his folks, almost simultaneously bending to retrieve and sign a five-year-old boy's program. Upon hearing Donna's voice, Jay yelled into the phone, "Where are you? In the tunnel?...No, I'm out here by the buses.... Hurry up if you want to see me, 'cause we're ready to roll."
The last of Miami's team buses revved its engine, and a pair of motorcycle cops cranked their sirens. Stymied for the first time all afternoon, Fiedler switched off the phone and shrugged. "Aw, I see them enough," he said of his parents, laughing as he boarded the bus. Seconds later it chugged off into the chilly Buffalo night, heading at full steam for January.