Greg Cote

How the Dolphins’ No. 1 fan earned Super Bowl invite and could wind up in Hall of Fame

Super Bowl With a Smirk is back with the second of five daily needling jabs at the self-important NFL and the oversized gravitas of its big game. Flying under the banner, “Make Fun, Not War,” Smirk is an annual Super Bowl Week feature in the Miami Herald years we remember to do it.

The Miami Dolphins made it to this year’s Super Bowl! OK, well, no. Sadly that last happened 34 seasons ago, if you want to get technical about it.

But a Dolphins fan made it to this week’s Super Bowl in Atlanta, as one of three finalists in a Ford Hall of Fans contest that will see the winner featured in a first-of-its-kind display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, O.

Roger Avila, 56, a.k.a. the Dolfan Maniac, has been an end-zone fixture at Miami games since 1994, in full uniform right down to the helmet and facemask. The Dolphins nominated him for the honor. Delivering the news of his selection to his home in Miami’s Sweetwater section: Dan Marino.

Wednesday he’ll get a Sweetwater police escort to the airport for the flight to Atlanta.

Avila works as a heavy equipment operator but his love is the Dolphins — a passion that helped him recover from a past cocaine addiction. The uniform he wears at games is No. 40 because he became free of cocaine 16 years ago, at age 40. He now volunteers as an assistant chaplain at Metro West Detention Center, helping men down on their luck to persevere, as he did.

“The two toughest things in my life is being obedient to the word of God; I fail it every day,” he said Tuesday, “And the second thing is being a Dolfan. But hey I’m going to be there, man. That’s my team! Win, lose or tie, I’m a Dolfan until I die.”

The Dolphins didn’t reach Atlanta, but at least their biggest fan did.

This year’s Super Bowl TV commercials will cost $5.2 million per 30-second spot. Meaning the preceding sentence cost about $995,000 to say. The ads are even more popular than the game itself, which nobody except ad executives actually believes.

SB commercials now are anticlimactic because most are released ahead of time to generate more buzz. Sunday’s ads will include Charlie Sheen and A-Rod for Planter’s, Steve Carell and Cardi B for Pepsi, and Jeff Bridges reprising his “The Dude” character from The Big Lebowski for Stella Artois.

Smirk’s favorite? A Budweiser Clydesdale and a lovable straw hat-wearing donkey compete for Betty White’s attention on an amorous blind date.

CBS rejected an ad from a medical cannabis company. Sponsors of the ad threatened to sue, then lost track of what they were mad about, got the munchies and fell asleep listening to Pink Floyd.

This year’s SB will be broadcast live in 180 countries. Somewhere in Hungary right now, two old crones are hunched over a cauldron of goulash debating Todd Gurley’s expected role. “Tobbet kell jatszania!” cries one. Counters the other: “Ah, nem feltetlenul...”

Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman noted age has “taken a toll” on Tom Brady, then quickly claimed he’d been misconstrued. Luckily for L.A., the officials also misconstrued Robey-Coleman’s blatant pass interference as a clean play in the NFC Championship Game.

Rob Gronkowski wore a sombrero to the week’s first media session and made crude jokes about his favorite number being 69. The Patriots tight end is the world;s biggest 14-year-old.

Quietly on Tuesday President Trump, who is friends with Pats owner Robert Kraft, signed an executive order mandating that Jared Goff fumble at least twice on Sunday.

A crackdown by NFL security in Atlanta is targeting counterfeit merchandise and media interviews with brain-injury experts.

The NFL held a Salute To Service on Tuesday, billed as a “military appreciation” event. Prohibited items included umbrellas, coolers and Colin Kaepernick.

Tuesday was the Super Bowl Media Party, where a thousand credentialed reporters gorged on free food and booze and then stiffed their company with fake restaurant receipts anyway.

Saquon Barkley and Campbell’s donated 100,000 bowls of soup to the Atlanta homeless on Tuesday. Barkley plays for the Giants, meaning this is as close as he’ll ever get to a Super Bowl.

NFL field director Ed Mangan appeared at a press conference Tuesday to discuss the playing surface. When no media showed up, Ed quietly left with shoulders slumped, his prepared comments jutting forlornly from his right pants pocket.

CBS talent also was made available on Tuesday. Good to see Tony Romo finally made it to a Super Bowl!

Was Smirk seeing things? Or was that Mercury Morris in downtown Atlanta on Tuesday, with a bullhorn on an orange crate, loudly reminding passersby the ‘72 Dolphins remain history’s only Perfect Season team?

Spoiler alert! In the official annual Madden video game simulation, the Rams beat the Patriots 30-27, led by Aaron Donald’s four sacks and MVP award. Angered the final score was revealed, CBS announced it would not televise Sunday’s game.

Super Bowl Party Tip Dujour: Plan to serve an average of 135 chicken wings per party guest, according to the National Chicken Council.

Sports Pass for $30 per year

Get unlimited access to all Miami Herald sports stories and videos for $30