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Why I Became A Miami Hurricane: John Michaels

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It’s more than just football, it’s a family.

We are defined by certain things in our life. For 15 years I’ve been a successful sports radio host, as well as being a sideline reporter for the Atlanta Falcons. Recently I was married, so now I’m defined as a husband and a father, and in Atlanta and on social media many people recognize me for those things. Nothing though defines me as a man, as a person, as a media member more than being a Miami Hurricane.

IT STARTED IN 1980

The journey to becoming a Miami Hurricane started in December 1980, where my grandfather Riley Evans would share stories of sneaking through the fence at the Orange Bowl to watch George Mira Sr. throw the ball for the Hurricanes. Miami, in 1980, was having a renaissance of a season under 2nd year coach Howard Schnellenberger, and was slated to play in the Peach Bowl against Virginia Tech. My Grandfather was telling me how huge this was for Miami, but as a 7-year-old I had no idea what this meant for the school or the program. I knew that Miami winning made Riley happy, so I cheered right along with him. The Canes would prevail 20-10 over the Hokies and my fandom was born.

THE MIRACLE IN MIAMI

1983 was a storybook year for the Canes and the city of Miami. The racial issues in South Florida are well documented at this point, and so is the rise of Miami (FLA). Coach Schnellenberger took the Canes to their 1st National Championship that season, and my vivid memories were watching them when they were on TV and listening to the games on 610 WIOD as the late great Sonny Hirsch would call the action. The night of the National Championship game my mother allowed me to watch the 1st quarter, and then it was time for bed. Miami would lead 17-0 after the first, but my 10-year-old butt had to go to sleep. It was a restless night for yours truly, but at about 5am I woke up to find out the final score, Miami 31 Nebraska 30.

Fast forward to August 1991, the Canes are the kings of college football, and I’m about to start my Senior year of High School. My lifelong dream was always to play football at Miami, but genetics were starting to make that reality a dream. 6’0 140lbs is not the ideal measurements for a Division 1 wide receiver, and even though Miami signed one of my teammates (Al Shipman), the Canes never looked my way. I shifted my attention to just being a student at “The U”, but years of skipping school, mediocre grades and the lack of money to pay out of pocket stopped me from going to Miami.

Michael Irving runs

At Palm Beach Lakes HS, we would try to emulate the Canes. Parents sowed our jerseys half way, so we could look like Michael Irvin or Michael Barrow. We wore the black socks and cleats like Miami did, and I remember our coaches yelling at the receiver group to get out of the 3-point stance.

WIDE RIGHT

Many of my fondest memories have been watching Miami play football. On my 16th birthday, Miami beat FSU 17-16, a game better known as Wide Right 1. Our family and friends would pack into my Aunt Bobbie’s 1-bedroom apartment to watch any big Miami game. Fifteen to twenty of us piled in a tiny living room, sweating, praying, cheering, and screaming at every Miami play. The 1st time I could afford to attend Miami/FSU live was in 2000, and we all know what occurred that day. Two of my closest friends, Dave and Carlos, purchased a block of 15 tickets that day. Only three of us were Miami fans, and we clearly got the last laugh, Wide Right III. I brought my best friend Carnell to his first ever game at the Orange Bowl in 2006, and he’s been a die-hard fan ever since. The Canes have saved me from some dark places in my life, because when I’ve been at my lowest, I would pop in an old VHS tape, or turn on the DVR and re-watch some classic Miami games which would put me in a better mood. It has always been more than football for me.

You will see on social media how much of a fraternity being a Miami fan truly is. We don’t care about where you are from, how much money you make, what the color of your skin is, just that you bleed Orange and Green. Tailgating at the Orange Bowl, and now Hard Rock Stadium is legendary, so don’t let the National Media feed you that Miami fans don’t care. We do, maybe we even care too much.

I’ve been lucky to work in sports radio for 15 years, so I’ve got to meet many of my Canes hero’s. Joe Zagacki has become a friend over the years, and I’ve told him the same story 50 times about how I would sit on the roof of my house and listen to him call games. Gino Torretta and I text on occasion. Warren Sapp has been on our radio show live twice and this year I finally got to meet Michael Irvin at Super Bowl Radio Row.

My 1st born son is named Cane.

I have 4 Canes tattoos and plan on getting more.

The first time my wife ever attended a college football game was in Tallahassee 2 years ago when Malik Rosier hit Darrell Langham to beat the Noles.

The basement of my house is a shrine to the great Canes teams of the past.

I am a Miami Hurricane.

It’s A Canes Thing……You Wouldn’t Understand!