Marino arrives at Hooters at 8 p.m., just about the time that Dan Sr. gets ready to hop into his truck and deliver bundles of newspapers through the night for the Pittsburgh Press, a job he has held for 14 years. Before that he installed vending machines, and before that he delivered furniture. He loved getting the night job, because it meant he never had to miss any of his kids' afternoon activities. "I got another eight years until I retire at 62," says Dan Sr. proudly.
Couldn't his only son take him away from all this, buy him and Veronica a big house somewhere and feather the nest with lots of appliances and cash? Dan Sr. looks shocked. "We're perfectly happy," he says. "What would we do with all that stuff?"
At Hooters, Marino has Clayton as his guest for the show. The two players banter easily with the show's host, Tony Segreto; it's a far cry from the yelling and finger-pointing they sometimes engage in during the heat of battle, when patterns come apart and balls are misfired. Of those sideline arguments, which can include Duper, too, Marino says, "Sometimes they're right, and sometimes I am." But what Marino's posture and tone say is, "I haven't been wrong yet."
Miami's backup quarterback, Scott Secules, watches from the crowd in Hooters, slightly in awe of his practice partner. "Three years ago he amazed me," Secules says. "Now he doesn't. But then he'll throw one that'll make me say,' I could never do that. Nobody could. Nobody ever will.' "
Marino sticks around at Hooters after the taping, talking to people in the crowded back room, signing autographs, shaking hands. Claire is there, and so is her brother Michael, who shares an apartment with Marino's youngest sister, Debbie, just a few houses down from the Marinos' place. Claire's brother Dan—are there enough of these Dans or what?—is also down from Pittsburgh, living in the Marinos' house, but he didn't come to Hooters tonight. He's at home, resting after another day as a house painter. One other friend from Pittsburgh who has relocated to South Florida, Billy Sabo, works as a waiter in Fort Lauderdale. He is short and animated, and he stands in front of Marino now.
"Watching that Jet game I was so mad at [New York defensive end] Jeff Lageman!" Sabo says. "God, Danny, I wanted to grab his ponytail, pull his head back and pound him! But I was mad at you, too. You were throwing those bad passes."
Sabo is sweating, clearly in pain over the Dolphins' misfortunes. He comes not quite to Marino's shoulder, and he looks as though he wants to hit something. Marino nods. He opens his smartly tailored blue suit and exposes his midriff. "Go ahead, Billy," he says. Marino looks at his pal, waiting for the blow. Sabo has his fist balled, and he's trembling slightly. He looks at Marino's white shirt, at the silk tie, and then un-clinches his fist. He reaches up, and he and Marino hug. Marino smiles. They're just a couple of Pittsburgh guys, hoping to win the Big One before too long.