Musicians on Sports: The Eat's Eddie O'Brien on the Dolphins, Orange Bowl, and Richie Incognito
The Eat has arguably been one of the most influential punk rock bands in Florida. Its particular brand of earnest rock and roll hinged on a careful balance of not particularly giving a damn and black Irish humor coupled with great musicianship. It has thankfully enjoyed a resurgence in popularity after Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles Records did the band justice releasing the It's Not the Eat, It's the Humidity compilation album back in 2007. The band's original releases enjoy ridiculous sums in the collector's market.
With the O'Brien brothers at the helm, the Eat penned the punk rock classic "Communist Radio," but it is the group's odes to the horse races, football, and baseball that bring us here today. Guitarist and singer Eddie O'Brien has been involved with numerous musical projects since moving to Miami in the late '60s and is a sports fan's fan; feeling the ebb and flow of South Florida's franchises.
We had a chance to discuss sports with him and this is how it went.
With the Eat, you wrote one of the greatest football songs of all time, "Open Man." What can you tell us about the creation of that song?
Eddie O'Brien: Thanks, Abel. Just a song about missed opportunities.
You and your brother were originally from up north. Did you maintain a fan's affiliation with any football teams in New York when you relocated to Florida?
When I was growing up in New York in the '60s, baseball was the undisputed king sport, pro football, basketball, and hockey were secondary. So I didn't really get interested in pro football until we came to Miami in 1969 which was a pretty good time to start following the Dolphins.
Mike was a Jets fan in NY and pretty much stayed that way his whole life. We were both Mets fans though, and it was pretty challenging being a Mets fan or a baseball fan in general in Miami in the '70s and '80s. One game a week on the network on Saturday, and it always seemed to be Cincinnati. For a while, WQBA carried the Met games in Spanish and, I listened to many of those, although outside of ordering lunch. I don't really speak Spanish, but after a while I was able to tell what was going on fairly well. Jonrun and "double-play" were the same.
During the Mets 1986 run, we were paying $4 for a copy of yesterday's NY Post at the newsstand on 79 and the Boulevard to keep up. Glenn Newland and Kenny Lindahl were baseball fans too, and we went to many Spring Training and Florida State League games in Miami Stadium and Fort Lauderdale Stadium. Chris Cottie was primarily a football guy. He used to go to all the UM games with Eric Moss in the upper deck.
When the Marlins began, I thought I could root for both. But they were in the same division, so you really had to pick one and after a while I lost interest in the Mets. Mike was slightly interested in the Marlins but remained a Mets fan until the end... I still prefer baseball to all the other sports.
What can you tell me about the Dolphins, when the Dolphins were the Dolphins?
It was fucking great. Going to the Orange Bowl was a lot of fun that they never recaptured at Joe Robbie Stadium. During the last days of the Orange Bowl, one of my pals found out if you filled out a card saying you were interested in club seats at the new stadium and mailed it in you got an invitation to a free lunch with open bar under the stands at the OB before the Dolphins game where they tried to sell you on the suites.
Of course, we had no intention of buying club seats but went to four or five of those luncheons. Free open bar; you can imagine how we treated that. During one of them, I somehow wandered away from the party and got lost under the stands. I ended up walking out on the field at the tunnel where the Dolphins were waiting to come out, face to face with Doug Betters who looked like he was ready to tear my head off and bludgeon me with it. It took a few scary seconds before security realized I wasn't supposed to be there and hustled me away.
Why do you think Dan Marino was never able to achieve Super Bowl success?
Never had a running game. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if they had drafted Emmet Smith instead of Richmond Webb in 1990. Webb was an excellent OT but Smith would have changed everything
In your opinion, when did it all begin to go south for the team? In retrospect, how would you stack the '90s with the '00s?
Shula gone in '95, Marino gone after '99, and then came the revolving coaches and quarterbacks without ever finding a good one of either -- picking Culpepper over Drew Brees hurt and trading a second rounder for AJ Feeley is a great example of the managerial incompetence of that whole period. Playing in the same division as one of the great teams of all time didn't help either.
Do you think Ryan Tannehill has what it takes to become a franchise quarterback? He's already had a pair of years, is the learning period over?
He seems to have the tools to be a solid QB, not a Marino or Peyton, but solid, but needs to play smarter and cut out the turnovers. This year is probably the make-or-break for him.
How do you feel about the "bullying" scandal?
The Dolphins knew Incognito was an asshole. He had trouble everywhere he played. He should have been gone when he pulled that bullshit at the golf tournament. Not like he was all that fucking great anyway. Tannehill was on his ass plenty. Jonathan Martin was pretty lousy too.
What has been the greatest lesson that the Dolphins' front office has continued to ignore since the glory days?
Inability to build through the draft and dependence on dopey free agent signings that never work out from David Boston all the way to Brandon Marshall.
If you were coach for a day, what would you do differently or try out on the field?
An A-11 Offense.
Any predictions for next season?
The Dolphins going 8-8 and the Super Bowl through Seattle again.