Long before hip hop superstars and thug culture filled our airwaves, shopping malls and iPods, the Miami Hurricanes brought street values and hood bravado into America’s living rooms. If the ’Canes didn’t invent the end zone celebration dance, they certainly popularized and perfected it.
By the late 1980s the Miami Dolphins were no longer capturing the collective imagination of South Florida as they once had. The Hurricanes had become Miami’s team. My team. I remember my father paying 10 bucks to park on somebody’s front lawn and then following the crowd a couple of blocks to the Orange Bowl. I remember watching these young warriors emerge through that smoke to the bloodcurdling roar of Miami football fans. They were not the steeped-in-tradition choirboys of Notre Dame, but they were our hometown heroes: diverse, brash and dangerous. Just like the city of Miami itself.
They spoiled us with national championships: 1983, 1987, 1989, 1991. And then a fifth in 2001. We literally expected to win a national title every year. Beano Cook called the ’Canes “the greatest dynasty since Caesar,” and he was right. I watched this team, over the course of a generation, pump out some of the most thrilling, controversial and brilliant players in football history: Jim Kelly, Michael Irvin, Vinny Testaverde, Cortez Kennedy, Warren Sapp, Jerome Brown, Jessie Armstead, Ed Reed, Bernie Kosar, Clinton Portis, Jeremy Shockey, Jon Vilma, the list goes on.