"Coach Shula and I flew up after practice this morning," said Dan Marino, who was accompanied by his bride-to-be, Claire Veazey, to the 50th Touchdown Club Awards Dinner last night.
The break from Super Bowl preparations bespoke the prestige of the annual event at the Sheraton Washington Hotel. Looking around at all the celebrities present, special guest Ricardo Montalban remarked, "It's like Fantasy Island."
Don Shula and quarterback Marino, the NFL player of the year, worked with other members of the Dolphins staff yesterday morning before flying here from Miami.
Both took a moment to assess the Dolphins' task against the San Francisco 49ers a week hence.
"Both the Dolphins' and the 49ers' offenses have been able to put points on the board this year," said Shula. "Theirs is a more veteran defense than ours. We have a lot of young guys at linebacker."
"They have an excellent defense," Marino said. "They play a containing type defense and they don't let you get the big play. And that's what we're going to try to do."
Shula was honored as Touchdown Club coach of the year and Marino as its AFC player of the year. Eric Dickerson received the award as NFC player of the year.
"The 49ers have an awesome defensive line," said Dickerson's Rams teammate, quarterback Jeff Kemp, who received the Arch McDonald Award presented to "the local boy (Churchill High School) who makes good."
Art Monk and Darryl Grant were honored as the Redskins' outstanding offensive and defensive players, respectively. Monk, too, talked about the upcoming Super Bowl:
"It would be great to catch passes from either one of those guys (Marino or 49ers quarterback Joe Montana), but . . . we have a great quarterback also."
"I think my chances are real good," Ohio State running back Keith Byars said of his outlook on the 1985 Heisman award after being runner-up in 1984 to Doug Flutie. "Especially if I have another year like I did last year."
Byars was honored by the Touchdown Club as the collegiate running back of the year. Boston College's Flutie was named collegiate quarterback of the year, in absentia.
Maryland Coach Bobby Ross, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Louis Lipps, Virginia Tech lineman Bruce Smith and Brigham Young Coach LaVell Edwards also received awards. So did baseball's Dave Winfield, tennis' Martina Navratilova and hockey's Rod Langway.
"They just don't honor football players around here," Winfield said. "They go on men, not on achievement. I got 13 years in the majors," Winfield said jokingly.
Show business personalities Dom DeLuise, Burt Reynolds and Montalban were head-table guests.