In my opinion

At 101, local Miami Dolphins fan remains loyal

 

asalguero@MiamiHerald.com

Willie Pearl Porter is 101 years old — born Oct. 5, 1911 — and is arguably the oldest Dolphins fan in town.

“I’m 101,” she said, “and I don’t have Alzheimer’s. I’m 20 years old from the head to the waist but from the waist on down I’m 100.”

She has been a season-ticket holder since the days the team played in the Orange Bowl. She has known players and coaches across the generations, which is why she has a jersey signed from Don Shula and a football from Jason Taylor.

So when Miami Dolphin safety Reshad Jones heard about Mrs. Porter, he wanted to meet her, extending her 46-year connection with the franchise to a player on today’s team.

“Today is my day off but when I heard you are one of the oldest living Dolphins fans, I wanted to come out here and meet you,” Jones tells Mrs. Porter as the two sit in the family room of the Liberty City house where she has lived since 1964.

“I said, I’m a bigger fan of hers than she is of the Dolphins. It’s bigger for me to meet her than her to meet me.”

The fact that Jones is giving up his day off is some statement Sometimes he wakes up at 2 or 3 in the afternoon because sleep is precious during football season and Tuesday is the day to catch up. Sometimes he’ll get a massage to help his body heal or maybe “just chill” to rest his mind.

The rest of the week is regimented and packed with pressure. NFL players guard their day off like linemen protect their quarterbacks.

But this Tuesday was neither a day to sleep nor chill. Jones wanted to drive from his home in Plantation to Miami to visit with his new friend.

Mrs. Porter and her family are thrilled to meet Jones. He’s not only one of the team’s most productive players, but he also has a chance to be a Pro Bowl selection.

Family members — including daughter Laurestine and son Albert — are wearing Dolphins jerseys when Jones arrives.

“We’ve been Dolphins ever since we put our foot on the soil down here,” Mrs. Porter said. “We will always be Dolphins. And people be saying, ‘Them old Dolphins?’ We say, ‘Yeah, them old Dolphins!’ They ask if we are going to watch their games and I say, ‘Yeah, I sure am going to look at the game!’”

Jones knows Mrs. Porter is a big fan. But her love for the team is something like parents’ love of their children. She loves them all, but she has her favorites.

“I love Ricky Williams,” she said. “I say, ‘Run Ricky, run!’ He and Jason Taylor are the two I really love.”

She used to include Brandon Marshall and Reggie Bush in that esteemed club, but that changed this year.

“She found out Bush and his girlfriend are expecting a baby and she didn’t like Bush anymore,” Laurestine Porter said. “She was like, ‘You can’t have no baby without marrying that lady.’ ”

Marshall was traded to the Chicago Bears in the spring.

“I still like him,” Mrs. Porter said. “I love me my Dolphins. I’m going to be a Dolphin until I close these eyes and go through the pearly gates.”

Jones is 6-2 and 210 pounds of chiseled muscle. He doesn’t need nutritional advice or workout tips. But he can learn something from Mrs. Porter about longevity.

“I want to know what’s the secret of living so long and looking so good?” Jones asks.

“You know what I think helped me to live this long is I taught student nurses and I had to live the life I taught,” she said, remembering her days as a nursing school teacher. “I didn’t smoke. I did like a little beer, but I did not smoke.”

Porter’s son asks Jones what car he drives. He asks what effect the heat has on players. He asks Jones if he’s ready for Sunday when the Dolphins, losers in five of their past six games, play against Jacksonville.

“Oh yeah,” Jones said. “Chad Henne and the Jaguars are coming in. We’ll get them.”

The Porters have three seats in Section 107, Row 21. They’ve had their tickets there “since there’s been a stadium,” Albert said. “We’ve seen all the changes. Good and bad.”

The team lately is struggling to get more patrons to attend games. The Porters aren’t among those.

“They have early renewal and we’ve done that already,” Laurestine said. “We had tickets since 1971 and then when they had the undefeated team. We’ve been there all that time.”

On game days, Albert and Laurestine call Mrs. Porter to make sure she’s watching on television. She suffered a heart attack in the 1980s after a game and had to stop going.

The family, by the way, doesn’t blame the Dolphins for that.

“We were winning then,” Laurestine said.

“They call and tell me to turn to Channel 4,” Mrs. Porter said. “I tell them, ‘I’ve already turned to Channel 4. I’m ready. Sometimes they show the big crowd. I say, ‘We got a nice crowd out there today.’ ”

Sometimes, of course, that’s not the case. Lately, the Dolphins struggle to draw but the Porters don’t let that dampen their spirits.

“She’ll tell us, ‘Nobody out there,’ and I tell her, ‘we’re out here,’ ” Laurestine said. “We support. Even when Cam Cameron was here, we were there.”

Jones relates to these folks. He was reared by his paternal grandparents. His grandmother is his most faithful fan.

“She’s probably missed only five games since I was 10 years old,” he said. “She goes everywhere — home and away. She’ll be here Sunday.”

The Porters will be there too. Mrs. Porter expects to be watching on TV.

“I still buy my ticket so that nobody can sit in my seat that’s not a good Dolphins fan,” Mrs. Porter said. “I don’t go, but I sit here and look and yell and stuff because I love them Dolphins.”

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