I was out of town for a wedding this weekend. Last night I came back to UT, but I had a three-hour layover in Charlotte, NC, so I decided to go find some craft beer. I found the Carolina Beer Company, which happened to be right next to my gate anyway.
So I'm talking to the bartender and he's an Eagles fan. I apologize and say I know his pain...I'm a Dolphins fan. We talk more about sports and I start to also engage in conversation with others sitting at the bar as well as order a brisket sandwich.
Right after I finish my meal and order my 3rd beer, a tall older guy with curly blonde hair, glasses, and REALLY blue eyes comes in, sits down three bar stools away from me, and orders an IPA on draft. I'm 95% positive his name is Dan Marino.
Now I have no idea what kind of person he is out in public. Maybe he doesn't like attention. Maybe he just wants to drink his beer in piece. Plus I'm not totally sure it's him yet. But if it's not it's his damn evil twin or something. A bit later, another guy steps up next to Mr. Marino and orders a bud light. Dan turns to him and says "Man you can't order that, this bar serves REAL beer." The guy clearly has no clue who he is and doesn't laugh at the joke. "I'm just messing with you man," Marino says, then looks at the bartender. "He didn't even smile." We all laughed. I've seen Dan Marino on TV enough to know his voice. 98% positive it's him.
I text my wife and tell her. "Shut up....Pictures or it didn't happen," she texts back. I don't want to be obvious though. I look over and he's just answered his phone and is talking really low, clearly not wanting everyone to hear his conversation. I snap of picture of him in the bar mirror. It's not a great picture but I can tell it's him.
This is where the story gets cool. I decide to start talking sports with the bartender again and making sure my voice carries to see if I can get a reaction out of the guy. We talk about the other sports and how the NFL compares and I say "Yeah I like the NFL best because it's 16 games, so every game matters."
Dan Marino's eye brows raise and he glances over at me and nods.
A few minutes later the bartender says "man I just hope the cowboys were a fluke, I hate them." I say "yeah well you have to hate your division rivals, just like how I hate the Pats, Jets, and Bills.
Dan Marino turns and looks over at me over his glasses grinning. I look back for a second, raise my glass, and nod. He raises his and nods back. I play it cool but in my head I'm screaming "OH MY F***ING GOD AHHH!"
100% positive it's him and he knows that I know.
As I'm signing my check, I look over and notice he pays with cash and leaves. My gate is right next to him and he's headed to Ft. Lauderdale. He boards first class. I run back to the bar to ask to bartender if it was really him. He confirms it, says it's not the first time he's served him, and apologizes for not telling me but that he's not allowed to.
I didn't get a picture with him or an autograph, but I think my non-verbal exchange with him was 100 times cooler anyway.