Football is a sport of circles. And a few such story arcs came around for Rich Miano in Honolulu on Pro Bowl Sunday.
Miano, the associate head coach at the University of Hawaii and the former Jets safety from the late Eighties, took his kids to see the NFL's all-star game at creaky but colorful Aloha Stadium. They happened to be sitting next to the radio booth, where Boomer Esiason happened to be visible as he provided the game analysis on Westwood One.
"I told them, 'Hey, there's Boomer Esiason.' They didn't know who he was. You've got to be kidding me," Miano said with a nostalgic laugh.
That's because Miano knows Esiason well, and it predates Boomer's three-year stay with the Jets, by which time Rich was an Eagle and a Falcon.
Miano's biggest two-minute drill as a Jet probably was Nov. 29, 1987, at the Meadowlands against Boomer's Bengals. With 1:48 to play, he took Barry Bennett's block of Jim Breech's go-ahead field goal attempt 67 yards to instead put the Jets ahead, 27-20. Forty-three seconds later, he picked off Esiason at the Jets 39 and ran it back to the Cincy 40 to seal the deal that day.
"That was the kind of game that has the most impact for a defensive back — closing seconds, touchdown, interception," Miano reminisced. "But I had fond memories of all my years there."
Meanwhile, there is the annual circle (which will be interrupted next year when the Pro Bowl is played in Miami) in which Miano attends the all-star game that he felt he was getting close to — his 1988 Jets season he started all 16 games for the only time in his 10-year career and supplied 112 tackles and a pair of interceptions to the Green & White cause.
The old safety stays in touch with the Jets. He talked with Joe Klecko recently, sees Kenny O'Brien in his coaching circles, and even checked in with current Jets strength coach Sal Alosi about finding a conditioning internship for one of his players.
You see, Miano may have been born in Brockton, Mass., and played his pro ball at opposite ends of the New Jersey Turnpike in the Meadowlands and the old Vet, but he's a Hawaiian islander through and through.
"My mom and dad live out here, my sister lives out here. We started our business out here, and of course I'm coaching at my alma mater," he explained. "Obviously, my love for Hawaii is something I'm compassionate about."
His business is Hawaii Speed & Quickness, which he started nine years ago to develop the islands' kids', well, speed and quickness to be able to play sports through sports camps and clinics. Over the years the organization has moved into drug prevention and alcohol awareness programs, and through federal, state and county grants, 95 percent of the programs are free to the kids.
I talked with Rich on my last day in Honolulu before returning to New Jersey and I wanted to probe him on how he feels about the isolation of being on the big little island of Oahu, 10 hours by plane and 5,000 miles away from his pro stomping grounds and four hours and 2,000 miles away from UH's nearest WAC opponents.
"You know, people still refer to 'I'm going back to the States' or 'I'm going back to the United States,' or sometimes they refer to us not being the 50th state," he said. "This is the most isolated place in the world, nothing within 2,500 nautical miles, but we have ESPN, CNN, satellite TV. You have everything and you're only a long plane ride away from anything.
"Whether it's us playing in the Sugar Bowl, B.J. Penn in Ultimate Fighting, Shane Victorino with the Phillies, whatever happens out here, it's not necessarily us against the world, but we're trying to represent Hawaii. It's like its own entity."
So Rich Miano will keep sending his Warriors from the islands to the mainland, if they so desire, and meanwhile keep his doors open at home to any friends from his past if they find their way to his home in paradise.
"All they have to do is look in the phonebook. I still have my original number," he said. "I'll take care of my old teammates."
Rex with Rome
Head coach Rex Ryan spent some time with Jim Rome on his syndicated radio show this morning. To hear the show on newyorkjets.com, click here.