Good morning Dolfans. My name is Kevin Dern and I’m the newest writer here at DolphinsTalk.com. You may or not be familiar with some of my work with the Phinalysis Podcast and Locked on Dolphins – more on that later – but I wanted to introduce myself.
I am 34 years old and was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio with brief stints in Ramsey, New Jersey, and Dayton, Ohio. I now live with my wife Leslie and our four-month-old daughter in Greendale, Indiana. Where is Greendale? It’s an easy drive on Route 50 about 20 miles west of downtown Cincinnati. It’s a nice small-town community with football allegiances torn between the Bengals and Colts. Don’t worry, my allegiance always has and always will be with the Miami Dolphins. I graduated from the University of Dayton. Yes, I love the basketball team. The team stunk my four years there. But our football team beat a team coached by Jim Harbaugh. Yes, THAT Jim Harbaugh! Kind of cool.
Why I am a Dolfan
Being from the Midwest, a lot of people are surprised when I tell them I am a Dolfan. It was Thanksgiving 1993. As a second-grader, I was just starting to learn about football and learn how it was played. I knew the Dallas Cowboys were good – most of my friends were Cowboys fans. The first NFL game I watched was the “Leon Lett Game”. We all know it. Miami was the beneficiary of his gaffe and won 16-14. A few weeks later, Miami played the Chargers on Monday Night Football. Since we were on Christmas Break, my dad let me stay up and watch Monday Night Football for the first time. I don’t think I made it until halftime before falling asleep. But, the Dolphins were on that night and I was hooked. They had beaten the Cowboys, had what I thought to be cool colors, and I was a fan.
I must give credit here to the J.F. Burns Elementary School Library here. As a second-grader, I still had no concept that Miami had started 9-2 and missed the playoffs that year. I also had zero idea of who Dan Marino was. I just knew I liked the team. The library had a collection of books about the Super Bowls, from I to XXV, and I read them all. When I got to Super Bowl VII and learned about Don Shula and the undefeated 1972 team, I couldn’t believe it! The only perfect team in NFL History. I became even more of a Dolfan reading those books.
The following fall I watched the 1994 opener and the epic Dan Marino-Drew Bledsoe shootout with my grandfather. When Dan Marino hit Irving Fryar on 4th & 6th for what would be the game-winning score, my grandpa told me that, “Dan Marino is the best quarterback to ever play”. And who was I to disagree? I kept the SI Cover with Marino and the “Dan the Man” moniker from the following week tacked up onto my bedroom wall until 2001. I was a Dolfan through and through. And I always will be.
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I’d be remiss if I didn’t start with two guys. Peter Yurkowski, a chemist by trade, was my freshman defensive coordinator and one of the best coaches I ever had. He’d coached collegiately at C.W. Post (now LIU Post), which was at the Division II level if I remember correctly. He’d also coached at a school for the deaf in Indiana. Coach Pete looked sort of like a mad scientist with slightly unkempt black hair and large glasses, but man, could he coach! As a freshman team, keep in mind this is in 2000, our defense was running multiple sets with sub-packages, a dime package, a quarter package, and all sorts of wild blitzes. And we were damn good too!
Following that up, Andy Olds is my next influence. My high school coach. I’d known him since I was in first grade when he was our gym teacher, and his son Tyler is one of my best friends still today. Coach Olds taught us all about being great people first. I’ll always appreciate that. And he taught us about being able to adapt. He’d gone 19-3 with our school’s first-ever playoff appearance and win in his first two years. His third year the team had seen most of the talent graduate and went 6-4. He scrapped by the offense (Pro I w/option looks) and defense (classic 5-2) because he knew he didn’t have the personnel. Beginning with my sophomore year, he won four straight conference titles, three playoff berths, and two regional final appearances. Change can be good.
Anthony Muñoz is the greatest offensive lineman in NFL history. He’s my third influence as I had the opportunity to intern with his foundation two summers during college and worked full-time there for two years after I graduated. While we didn’t always talk football, I’ll treasure the times we did. Learning about blocking schemes, techniques, some of the great players of Anthony’s era, and the inner-workings of an NFL franchise were so intriguing to me. And as good of player as Anthony was, he’s an even better person.
Obviously, it’s only appropriate to appreciate what Don Shula did for the Dolphins and the NFL. Going from player to coach, to changing schematic styles throughout his career – he is the best. I also think you have to admire Bill Belichick and Nick Saban for their sustained success, and I even more so after hiring Brian Flores, I appreciate what they’ve done in terms of advancing defense over the years. I know that might be sacrilege to many Dolfans, but now that Miami’s running THAT defense, you have to be excited about what Brian Flores can do with it moving forward with the cast he has to work with post-2019.
How I Arrived Here
Long story, so I’ll give the abbreviated version. If you’re a Dolfan, you’ve probably read or listened to something that Travis Wingfield has done, whether it was from his time at Locked On Dolphins or now on the Drive Time Podcast. He’s everywhere. And he’s really, really good at what he does. I’ve known Travis for more than a decade, having been a part of the same message boards over time. In 2016 he called me up to ask if I’d be interested in co-hosting a podcast with him as part of the Welcome to Perfectville site. A special thanks go to Sam Marcoux and Chris Cullen there for giving Travis and I a home for our Phinalysis Podcast. The Phinalysis lasted through the 2016 season until shortly after the 2017 NFL Draft. It was a fun ride during a fun season.
Travis became the host of Locked on Dolphins and allowed me to write for the blog and occasionally be a guest on the podcast. Because of my full-time job, I wasn’t able to write as often as I’d have liked, but it gave me an outlet. I’ll always be grateful to Travis for that. He’s going to do great things in his new role with the Dolphins.
From there, Mike reached out and offered me the opportunity to write for DolphinsTalk. And here I am. I am grateful to Mike for the chance to be a part of this team and I look forward to covering the Dolphins whenever it is we have football again! In addition to writing here, I’m always happy to talk Dolphins football on Twitter @KevinMD4. Fins Up!