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RIP Jim Mandich... You will be missed.

Old 04-27-11, 12:00 AM
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RIP Jim Mandich... You will be missed.

Former Dolphins great and sportscaster Jim Mandich dies at 62
.Beloved former Dolphin and South Florida sportscaster Jim Mandich lost his fight with bile duct cancer and died Tuesday at age 62.

On a quiet charter flight to the Dolphins’ first road game of the 1976 season, a massive rookie named Kim Bokamper was walking down the aisle of the plane when Jim Mandich, a tough-nosed, overachieving veteran, stopped him in his tracks.

“Sit down with me, boy,” Mandich said.

If Bokamper was intimidated (he was), it was only because he had yet to understand what everyone else who met Mandich would eventually learn: Nobody was kinder. Nobody cared more. Nobody had a larger heart than him.

On Tuesday, Mandich died. He was 62.

“I don’t know why he asked me to sit next to him,” Bokamper said Tuesday night. “I don’t know the reason. But he was a part of my life ever since.”

Dozens — no, hundreds — of others in the South Florida sports community can most certainly say the same.

Mandich impacted lives as quickly as he entered them, leaving a legacy that will not be forgotten.

After a battle with bile duct cancer that began when Mandich started experiencing pains in 2009, one of the most energetic broadcasters (not to mention, a member of the 1972 Dolphins) ended his fight.

But it wasn’t before he battled in the same fashion that made him a success on the football field.

“In the last year and a half, I found out he’s a fighter,” said Joe Rose, who called games in the broadcast booth alongside Mandich. “God, he’s a fighter.”

As if that was a surprise to anyone who had seen him play as a scrappy tight end for the Dolphins, Rose pointed out that Mandich managed to show up to the broadcast game last season for every single game, home and away, despite his fight with cancer.

“Jim wasn’t a big player,” said CBS announcer Dan Dierdorf, his friend and former teammate at Michigan. “He wasn’t an imposing guy physically. But he was such a relentless competitor.

“He was a guy who just radiated confidence. Jim was a supremely intelligent guy. He was brash, confident, larger than life. He was one of the great college players of all time. He was the life of the party. He was captain of the team, and the guy we all followed around. We always addressed him as Captain Mandich.”

Mandich had been receiving chemotherapy and radiation, with the hope that the tumor would shrink enough for it to be removed. He’d been diagnosed in February 2010.

Former Dolphins teammate Nick Buoniconti said he and Dick Anderson “had a chance to say goodbye to Jim at his home on Sunday” but, “I didn’t think it would happen this quickly. I was kind of shocked.”

Buoniconti said of his visit Sunday: “It was a very emotional hour, talking about the Dolphins and his alma mater and Chad Henne. He laughed. [One of his sons] was supposed to be married in July and the family sensed the end was near, so they had a very small ceremony, as his son got married with Jim able to attend. If you had to see a friend go out like that, it was a beautiful afternoon.

“Jim was always his own man. He was a tough kid from Ohio who watched his dad labor in the bar and give him an opportunity to go to college and better himself. Just a good soul.”

University of Miami radio voice Joe Zagacki, one of Mandich’s longtime close friends, said: “You won’t ever find a more reliable, more trustworthy person. You didn’t need a contract with Jim. His word was his word. His outlook on life was tremendous.

“He enjoyed everything about life. He enjoyed stories, he enjoyed laughing. He rooted for people to do well. There wasn’t a mean bone in the guy’s body. He was strongest, most fierce competitor I’ve ever met.”

Mandich, an All-American at Michigan, was drafted by the Dolphins with the 29th pick of the 1970 NFL Draft and played eight years, before finishing his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1978. Mandich then became one of the most popular sportscasters in South Florida history as a talk show host and as the Dolphins radio analyst from 1992 to 2004, and then from 2007 through last season.

His catch phrases became a part of South Florida sports lexicon — including “Awwwright Miami!” and “just riding around with my windows down.”

Mandich was inducted into the College Hall of Fame in 2004.

He is survived by his wife Bonnie and three sons, including Mark, Michael and Nick. Funeral details were not immediately available.

Such a shame, great guy I used to listen to him everyday. Almost feels like I lost a friend.
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Old 04-27-11, 12:21 AM
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Re: RIP Jim Mandich... You will be missed.


The world is less without you. Be at rest.
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