A Dolphin in Winter
The Internet means everything is alive. People, places, memories, images and sounds go dormant, but they never die. They are always out there on some avenue of cyberspace waiting to be experienced again.
This includes things that most of us never wanted to experience to begin with but now, strangely, sometimes have the urge to revisit: commercials. And this time of year we thank Google, YouTube and melancholy pop culture buffs for Christmas commercials.
Perhaps my favorite old Christmas commercial is the one for Norelco Razors from the 1970s, which shows Santa Claus riding in a giant electric razor over pristine knolls of snow. No one can prove the real Santa has never actually done that.
If Santa on a wild razor is my favorite Christmas commercial then a close second is one featuring an equally odd image: a Dolphin in winter. It’s the Dan Marino Isotoner Gloves commercial from the 1980s. The ad shows Marino, the legendary Miami Dolphin and the greatest quarterback to ever play, coming in from the snow and extolling the virtues of Isotoner Gloves as unseen teammates reach from hiding spots dropping hints and patting him on the back and cheek as Dan the Man says “This Christmas, take care of the hands that take care of you, with Isotoner Gloves.”
Were these commercials even broadcast in Miami? Not many Dolphins fans need to worry about having gloves for winter. But Marino, who played for the Dolphins from 1983 through 1999 and now hangs out in the Hall of Fame, was born in Pennsylvania and played college ball at Pittsburgh so he certainly appreciates owning the right weapons to combat winter’s wrath.
Plus, Dan played in one of the greatest winter games in NFL history, when his Dolphins beat the Dallas Cowboys in the notorious Leon Lett game in the snow at Texas Stadium on Thanksgiving Day in 1993. No wait. He didn’t. Dan was hurt the second half of that season. Do you remember who was under center for the aquatic mammals for that game? Steve DeBerg. DeBerg probably could have used some Isotoners that day. Lett, too.
I can’t quite convey why I like the Dan Marino gloves commercial so much. Perhaps it is indeed the incongruity of a Miami guy selling gloves that is just so funny, and charming. It could be it’s the way he’s assaulted by greedy players from off-screen including the one who pats his cheek a little too hard (you can tell) and Dan looks a bit annoyed as we have to remember this may have happened on the 20th take of the day. It’s just so weirdly precious that America’s memory lane includes a brief visit with the lighter side of one of the NFL’s all-time fiercest competitors.
Santa never brought a Vince Lombardi Trophy to Marino, but Dan delivered a thousand great memories to us. Put on the gloves, let the flakes fly. It’s a Christmas blizzard. Dan Marino fades back to pass. Raise your arms and watch the night sky. Christmas memories. Marino magic.