On Tuesday, April 26th, 2011, South Florida and the entire country lost a beloved football player, radio personality, and philanthropist. Jim "Mad Dog" Mandich passed away last night after battling cancer for over a year. Mad Dog was one of the best things to happen to South Florida and sports talk radio.
Jim was a generous friend to my family and I. He gave us so much in so many ways. From rounds of golf, to meeting pro athletes at the Dolphin's Touchdown Club, to giving me one of the most unforgettable experiences of my entire life, Jim was always there to give.
On January 8th, 2009, I faced a sort of difficult decision. The next day was the BCS National Championship game at Dolphin Stadium and I was at my mom's house (a short 15 minute drive away), but I didn't have a ticket. Did I want to drive back up to Gainesville to be with my fellow Gators to watch the game, or did I want to try to scalp a ticket and do whatever I could to get into the game?? I decided on the latter. I was so close that it seemed wrong to drive away from it.
Ticketless, but excited, I got to the stadium bright and early and began asking people for tickets. As my time slowly ran out, as did my morale. I gave up in mid-afternoon and began to try to distract myself by tailgating with my friends, but in the back of my head, I was watching the clock tick towards kick-off and I still didn't have a ticket. The sun began to go down and I accepted the fact that I would be watching the game from the tailgate.
The smell of hot-dogs and stale beer filled the air and the sound of gator chants filtered through the oklahoma marching band....I made it, and it's all because of Jim "Mad Dog" Mandich.
On top of just even getting into the game, the Gators chomped the Sooners 24-14, and celebration ensued. WE ARE ALL STRONG FOR OLD FLORIDA, DOWN WHERE THE OLD GATORS PLAY, IN ALL KINDS OF WEATHER, WE'LL ALL STICK TOGETHER, FOR F-L-O-R-I-D-A!!!!! GO GATORS!!!
Thanks, Jim, for one of the most unforgettable experiences in my life. You and your seemingly endless generosity, kindness, and passion will never be forgotten! You will be missed! Rest in peace.