Dolphins' stoic Joe Philbin says he knows how to lighten up
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) When Joe Philbin says he has a sense of humor, he's not joking.
The Miami Dolphins coach has been described as a staid, stoic straight arrow. He's also meticulous and circumspect, known to pick up the stray piece of trash or read his postgame victory speech from note cards.
With characteristic conciseness, he says he's bland. But ask Philbin's players about his humor, and they laugh.
''I absolutely love it,'' receiver Greg Jennings says. ''Not everybody is in sync with it. Sometimes it flies by you, and you don't catch onto it, and he's looking at you like, `It was a joke, guys.' You don't really expect him to come off like that.''
Jennings has known Philbin since 2006, when both were with Green Bay. If Dolphins fans have rarely seen evidence of the coach's wit, it may be because there's little to laugh about lately.
The Dolphins have gone 7-9, 8-8 and 8-8 in three years under Philbin. Add a bullying scandal and a pair of late-season collapses, and it makes for a gloomy mood at times.
Training camp invites optimism, however. The Dolphins are confident they'll end a seven-year playoff drought, and Philbin has cracked an occasional smile during the first 10 days of training camp.
He drew laughs Monday with a playful jab at Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes.
''He's a good athlete,'' Philbin says. ''Just ask him. He'll tell you.''
When asked about his lighter side, Philbin responds with a thoughtful five-minute answer. Despite an impassive exterior, it's clear the coach cares about how he's perceived.
''I hope people understand I do have a sense of humor,'' he says. ''I take my job but not myself seriously. Humility is something that's important in our family, and to kind of be understated.''
Philbin says he doesn't mind being the butt of a joke, which center Mike Pouncey confirms.
''He actually does have a sense of humor. It's a lot different than a lot of guys, but we really enjoy him,'' Pouncey said. ''He's a guy who dishes it out, but he takes a lot. He'll see us moseying around on the practice field, and he'll yell at us to run. Then we'll catch him walking, and we'll yell at him.''
On the other hand, there are rumors former Dolphins linebacker Jason Trusnik impersonated Philbin, which may be why Trusnik is now with the Carolina Panthers.
Philbin says he's a big fan of Jerry Seinfeld's hit show and likes to watch reruns. He enjoys Woody Allen too.
But late-night comedians David Letterman, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have been off his radar. And when asked his favorite movie comedy, he considers the question for 10 seconds and draws a blank.
''Yes!'' he says, his memory triggered. ''And `Caddyshack,' `Blues Brothers,' `Vacation' - those kind of things.''
Does he watch ''Saturday Night Live''?
''A little bit. Way back. Jane Curtin, Chevy Chase and those people.''
When asked about the Dolphins' funniest players, he lists Pouncey, Jennings and safety Louis Delmas.
Levity in the locker room is important, Philbin says.
''There is enough pressure and tension built into the life of an NFL player,'' he says. ''So the ability of guys to enjoy one another - scientific studies show laughter is good for you.''
Who's funny in his house?
''My oldest son Matt has a good sense of humor,'' Philbin says. ''He's definitely the talker of the family.''
Where does he get that?
''Not from me,'' Philbin chortles.
Good one, coach.
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