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His amplified voice drifts down from the pavilion atop the clubhouse at Doral Park, a palm-studded golfing community grafted onto the sandy flats to the north and west of Miami International Airport.
Two dozen golfers have paid $25 each this breezy Monday for a round of golf preceded by an alfresco lunch—neat little rollups of ham, roast beef and cheese, plus potato salad—and the opportunity to quiz the club's permanent "Sports Host," Don Strock, about the Miami Dolphins' 20-14 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals the previous day.
"Well, Mark Duper only has so many ribs," Strock is saying in response to a question about why he does not call the "curl lateral" more frequently. Six years ago that play did more to enhance Strock's reputation than any other in his career. "As you might remember," Strock says, "we used that play in the San Diego game."
The golfers chuckle. Most of them are regulars who know Strock. They have heard the stories of him coming off the bench in the second quarter of the 1981 season AFC playoff game against San Diego with the Dolphins already trailing 24-0. In particular, they have heard the tales of the near legendary '87 curl lateral," a flea-flicker in which Strock passed to wide receiver Duriel Harris, who, just as he was to be tackled, lateraled to trailer Tony Nathan, who went on to score a 40-yard touchdown on the final play from scrimmage of the first half. The razzle-dazzle pulled Miami back to within seven points of the Chargers.
Even Strock must smile at the memory, his teeth flashing white against his sun-darkened face. No matter what the reason for a smile, it seems as much a part of Strock's image as the baseball cap and aquamarine warmup jacket he wears on the sidelines of Dolphin games. "He's just such a good-natured guy," says his wife, Debby. "Nothing seems to get him down for long."
And why shouldn't Strock be happy? He's only got the best job in football, if not in all of sports.
"No question about it," says Bob Griese, the six-time All-Pro Dolphin quarterback who is now an analyst with ABC. "The guy has made more money per bruise than anyone in the game."
In his 14 years with the Dolphins (15 if you count his rookie year spent on the taxi squad), Strock has played behind Griese, who started 152 games; Earl Morrall (who started 11 and was himself a famous backup for Griese and Johnny Unitas); David Woodley (41); and now Dan Marino, who has started all but two games since becoming the No. 1 quarterback in 1983, and who, midway through this season, had started 52 games in a row.
Nice work if you can get it.
In a 1985 SI poll of 200 NFL pros, Strock got a vote as the smartest football player in the league from Patriots linebacker Steve Nelson. "He has to be smart to get paid that much for carrying a clipboard," said Nelson.