No lie: A.J. Duhe’s honesty led to ’83 Super Bowl, Miami Dolphins drafting Dan Marino

A.J. Duhe returns one of his three interceptions for a touchdown to beat the Jets in the 1982 AFC title game. (Palm Beach Post file photo by Alan Zlotky)

DAVIE — A.J. Duhe could not tell a lie, and it’s because of his honesty that he ended up a Miami Dolphin.

And because of that, the Dolphins reached the 1983 Super Bowl.

And because of that, they ended up in position to land Dan Marino.

There’s a decent chance some — all? — of those fortunate occurrences would not have befallen the Dolphins had Duhe not been so forthcoming when he was entering the league.

Duhe shared his intriguing draft tale Thursday during a ceremony the Dolphins held with five other retired players who signed one-day contracts so each could formally retire as a Dolphin.

Duhe was a highly regarded defensive end/linebacker coming out of LSU in 1977. Once considered second-round talent, as the draft neared, he climbed into the first-round pool.

Problem was, Duhe hired Howard Slusher as his agent. Slusher managed to get handsome contracts, but it made him an outcast with general managers in an era rocked by rookie holdouts.

“Howard Slusher’s not an agent, he’s a terrorist,” George Young, the former Giants and Dolphins GM, once said.

“Do not tell anyone I’m representing you,” Slusher told Duhe.

The morning of the draft, Duhe received a call.

“It was the Buffalo Bills,” Duhe said. “They were picking No. 12. They said, ‘We’ve heard Howard Slusher may be your agent.’ God told me to say it: ‘Yes, he will be my agent.’ They said, ‘We’ll be back in touch.’ ”

Hanging up the phone, Duhe announced to his roommates, “I think I’m going to F’in Buffalo.”

Minutes later, the phone rang, only this time, it was Bobby Beathard, the Dolphins’ GM and who’s headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year.

“We just selected you as the No. 1 draft pick for the Miami Dolphins,” Beathard said.

“Man, you don’t know how good that felt,” Duhe said Thursday. “That was probably one of the greatest moments of my life.”

Duhe became one of the Dolphins’ all-time playmakers on defense and captured the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. He turned in one of the greatest single-game performances in team history, intercepting three passes (returning one for a touchdown) in the 1982-83 AFC championship game, a muddy 14-0 win over the Jets.

“Obviously the biggest moment of my playing career,” Duhe said.

The Dolphins went on to lose to Washington 27-17 in the Super Bowl, which meant they picked 27th in the 1983 draft.

You know the rest.

Maybe, if Duhe had fibbed and said he hadn’t settled on an agent, the Bills would have taken him.

Maybe, without Duhe, the Dolphins wouldn’t have been good enough to reach that Super Bowl.

Maybe they would have drafted higher, and been among the 26 other teams too petrified by rumors about Marino to risk spending a high first-round pick on him.

In listing his career highlights, Duhe mentioned when he was drafted, the Jets game … and the 1983 Draft, which he heard on the radio.

“I’m all by myself in the car, listening to IOD,” Duhe said of WIOD, the team’s flagship station. “I’m going, ‘We may get Dan Marino!’ And sure enough, we got The Man.”

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