DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Ronnie Brown predicts teammate Vontae Davis will be the first player to fall asleep when the Miami Dolphins attend the play “Lombardi” in New York on Friday night.
Davis disagrees, saying he’s looking forward to his first Broadway show.
“It’s a new experience,” Davis said Thursday. “I’m like a kid in a candy shop.”
Despite a 5-1 road record, the Dolphins decided to shake up their travel routine. They’re leaving town Friday morning, more than 24 hours earlier than usual, for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets. And at the suggestion of owner Stephen Ross, they’ll attend a Friday night performance of “Lombardi,” a drama about late Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.
The Dolphins arranged to practice at the Giants’ indoor facility. That caused a stir in New York, and Giants co-owner John Mara said he should have spoken to Jets owner Woody Johnson before giving the Dolphins permission.
In South Florida, there was a little head-scratching about the Dolphins fixing something that’s not broken. Their road success stands in contrast to a 1-5 home record.
Players were surprised by the itinerary.
“It caught me off-guard,” Brown said. “I try to keep a certain routine during the week, and it threw me off a little bit. But I’m excited about the opportunity to see the play. It’s a part of us, because this is what we do. We’ll have to change it up a little bit and get used to it.”
Coach Tony Sparano likes having his players spend time away from work together. He once arranged an outing at a bowling alley during training camp, and he has taken his team to the movies at least twice. The Dolphins have also departed on Fridays before, although that was for West Coast games.
Sparano said this week’s Friday departure was already planned when Ross suggested taking in the play.
“He had seen the show, thought it was outstanding and brought it up to me,” Sparano said. “I thought, man, this would be a great idea to get our guys involved in something like this.
“The good news for me is that I get to have my team with me for two days. I enjoy hanging out with my team. They enjoy being around each other. They play well when they’re around each other.”
Sparano said his last visit to Broadway was “many years ago” with his wife for a Christmas show. This time the subject will be football — the NFL helped produce “Lombardi.”
Finding inspiration in such material isn’t corny high-school stuff, Sparano said.
“I just believe in the history of the game,” he said. “Several weeks ago when we played in Green Bay, I got to the stadium pretty early and started jogging around that field. All of sudden you start to smell the air a little different, and you start to feel a little different, and it’s kind of a neat feeling. That to me is what this game is all about.”
At least one member of the Dolphins’ contingent, offensive coordinator Dan Henning, met Lombardi. That was more than 40 years ago.
“We went to the same high school” in Brooklyn, Henning said, adding dryly, “a few years apart. I met him once. He was at a convention just before he died. I had just started coaching in college at that time.”
Henning is well-versed on the pioneer coach, who won the first two Super Bowls and motivated players with quotes that became part of pop culture. Some current players know only that the NFL championship trophy is named for Lombardi, and several Dolphins said they’re eager to learn more.
“I think everybody will be excited because of the topic,” cornerback Benny Sapp said. “I’m pretty sure everybody will be awake.
“It’s whatever you want to take out of it. If you believe in wanting to get that trophy, it’s something to motivate you for your career, not just Sunday.”
Plus, Ross is treating. Tickets start at $138.
“They’d better give us some good seats,” Sapp said with a laugh, “right on the 50.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
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