- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 8, 2012

AVENTURA, Fla. — If Peyton Manning wants to talk about playing quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, Dan Marino would be thrilled to take his call.

And just in case, Marino has his sales pitch ready.

“There’s great tradition there. We’ve had a couple off years but believe me, they’ll be back,” Marino said. “It’s a great franchise and they’ll get it turned around.”

Adding Manning almost certainly would help in that quest, which largely started when Marino retired more than a decade ago.

From the moment the four-time MVP’s parting from the Indianapolis Colts became complete Wednesday, buzz about Manning has been growing in Miami - much of it fueled by the quarterback’s arrival in South Florida only a few minutes after he technically became an NFL free agent for the first time. Manning insists he does not know what his next move will be or even how this chapter of his life will work, and Marino believes him.

“I think he fits with anybody,” Marino said Thursday at a charity golf tournament. “He’s one of the best to ever play the game at that position. So wherever he ends up playing, if he’s healthy, which is going to be important to Peyton, I’m sure he wants to go out there and play at a high level. Wherever he plays, he’ll be a huge impact for that team.”

The Dolphins are believed to be one of the teams interested in adding Manning, who already has indicated he doesn’t want to play for Washington.

Manning’s arrival in Miami doesn’t seem to be a sign that the Dolphins are the front-runners. He owns a condo in Miami Beach, where television crews were staked out Thursday.

Other than his father, Archie, and Super Bowl-winning brother Eli, “Dan Marino is my all-time favorite quarterback,” Manning said Wednesday.

Marino said he was moved hearing that.

“It means a lot because Peyton’s been great to me over the years and he’s been such a true pro and a very good friend,” Marino said. “It’s tough to see him not being able to continue his career [in Indianapolis]. … He’s a class act.”

After the Colts decided not to pick up Manning’s $28 million bonus, team owner Jim Irsay ended months of speculation by releasing the 14-year veteran and longtime face of the franchise. Indianapolis is expected to draft Stanford’s Andrew Luck with the first overall pick.

Manning missed the 2011 season because of a damaged nerve that caused weakness in his right arm. He had the most recent of his multiple neck surgeries Sept. 8.

The Manning watch is consuming Miami, even with the NBA’s Heat having one of the league’s best records, the newly renamed Miami Marlins set to begin play in a $515 million downtown ballpark with an upgraded roster next month, Tiger Woods and the world’s best golfers playing at Doral this week, even the NHL’s Florida Panthers in the mix for a playoff spot for the first time in years.

Everyone is watching, or so it seems. Dwyane Wade reached out to Manning on Twitter, and LeBron James took time in a postgame television interview to briefly sell Manning on the merits of South Florida.

Will Marino call him?

“I probably wouldn’t do that unless he asks for some advice,” Marino said. “And he has plenty of people that he’s working with to help him make the right decisions.”



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