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Jake Scott sold his charter fishing boat, the Mele Kai, which is Hawaiian for “Song of the Seas,’' a few years back to the drummer of The Grateful Dead, Mickey Hart. That’s a sentence you don’t see very often. It’s also the kind of life Scott led right through his death.
That boat took a dozen of Scott’s friends this winter on one final trip with him off his beloved island of Kauai. First, they laid a wreath with Scott’s picture and a tall Budweiser can in the Pacific Ocean. Then they spread the former Miami Dolphins great’s ashes in the water with a toast.
“That’s what he wanted done,’' said his brother-in-law, Randy Fabal.
Scott had one other posthumous request: Sell all his football souvenirs. It’s not like they ever had value to him. They were boxed and stored away for decades, first at his mom’s home in Georgia and later at the home of his sister Rita and Randy in Key West.
Scott only kept five souvenirs from his playing career. He’d hold up his left hand to show them off - five screws surgically embedded in the hand he broke against Kansas City fullback Jim Otis’s helmet in the 1971 AFC Championship Game.
When he broke the right wrist in that Super Bowl, both hands were in casts. “Now I find out who my real friends are when I go to the bathroom,” he said.
But that 1971 Super Bowl ring? And the two winning Super Bowl rings from the 1972 and 1973 seasons? And the 1968 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Trophy that he didn’t even bother to attend the banquet to pick up in person (his mother, Mary, went)?
Well, they’re for sale through Saturday at Heritage Auction (ha.com). They’re part of what’s probably the largest available stash of Dolphins (and University of Georgia) memorabilia, if you’re into such things.
For instance, there’s that ring from the Perfect Season’s Super Bowl (bid as of Tuesday morning: $42,000) and his Super Bowl MVP watch (bid: $875) from that game he had two interceptions. There’s a football signed by the 1968 college All-America team and a helmet signed in 2016 by every Super Bowl game’s Most Valuable Player.
Scott attended that 2016 Super Bowl reunion as opposed to other events he skipped through the years. The TV camera went down the line of greats that day. He was the only one without a suit jacket, an untucked shirt, jeans and flashing the Hawaiian haka sign with thumb and pinky extended.
That was Scott. No one fit less in today’s memorabilia world than him. For decades after retirement, he didn’t bother with autograph signings that were easy money and nostalgic fun for many players. Nor did he attend Dolphins or Georgia reunions. A memorabilia dealer once hired a private investigator to contact him considering his absence meant his autograph was coveted. It took the investigator two years to make contact.
Scott didn’t keep a single picture of his football days, much less a ring or trophy, all those decades in his home on the small town of Hanalei on Kauai. He softened a bit in his later years. He made up with his Dolphins coach, Don Shula, after a three-decade feud and then went up in the team’s Honor Roll with his Dolphins and Georgia teammate, Bill Stanfill.
After years of saying he didn’t care about being inducted into the College Hall of Fame, he also attended his induction to it in 2011. Fabal remembered him joking with one-time Florida rival Steve Spurrier there.
“I’ll bet you’re glad Stanfill isn’t here,” he told Spurrier, who was hit repeatedly by Stanfill in their meetings.
Scott lived an adventure to the end, splitting time in the end between a camper at Bear Lake in the Colorado mountains and Hawaii. For years, each day at 5 p.m., Scott would meet at the Tahiti Nui bar in Hanalei. He’d sit between two friends.
You can see those two in the George Clooney movie, The Descendants. The actor Jeff Bridges sits between them in Scott’s seat. One magical night, I sat with them as they told stories.
“I live the simplest life you can imagine — wake up every day and decide whether to golf, fish or have a drink,” Scott said.
He fell down a flight of stairs in November at a friend’s house in Atlanta. He fractured five vertebrae. He died a couple of days later in the hospital. He was 75.
As he wished, his ashes returned to Hawaii. As he also wished, all his football career’s stuff is up for sale — well almost all of it. Those five screws stayed with him.