"I had my speech all prepared," recalls Baumhower, "but Coach Bryant just made me feel like a toad. He was right—I'd never put my heart into football. I was just doing it for fun. He changed everything for me, made me want to be as good as I could be. I came back, worked my way up, and from the fourth game on I was a starter." Baumhower learned much from the two bears in his life.
The Dolphins have just whipped the Cincinnati Bengals 38-14 at the Orange Bowl in a recent Monday-night game. Baumhower has showered, dressed and headed to a parking lot where several Dolphins and their families are tailgating. Brudzinski is there with his wife, Susan. Last December when Baumhower piled most of the Miami team on the Nauti Dolphin and piloted the craft in Fort Lauderdale's annual Christmas Boat Parade, Brudzinski dressed up as Santa Claus and perched on the bow, where he was illuminated by spotlights. He waved to the kids on shore, and everything was fine until safeties Lyle and Glenn Blackwood, the notorious Bruise Brothers, a subdivision of the Killer Bees, mugged him. The kids looked on in horror. "Don't beat up Santa," they screamed.
Baumhower asks Brudzinski if he'd like to go out on the boat the next day. Brudzinski says he'd love to, but first he has to go to the Dolphins' practice site for treatment on a hip pointer.
"I feel good," says Baumhower.
But what is good? He played an outstanding game, several times fending off 288-pound Bengal Center Dave Riming-ton to tackle 272-pound Fullback Pete Johnson. But as he signs autographs now, his hands start cramping.
Baumhower was impressed with Rimington. "You know how I look at guys I play against and don't see them?" he says. "Well, tonight at the end I looked at his eyes, and he really looked young. And is he big."
Baumhower smiles faintly. The sharks are out there, but they haven't hit yet.