Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:41 am Posts: 13413
Location: Raleigh, NC
We spoke twice this week, Garo and I. He sounded tired the second time, his voice a whisper. He had a reason. He had just been through his second of three chemotherapy treatments, chemicals seeping intravenously through a port in his chest.
“It doesn’t bother you during,” he says. “But it takes a lot out of you.”
Garo turned 70 on June 2. There is a photograph that shows him lifting a forkful of cake. There is a wide scar on his forehead, above his left eyebrow, that the Band-Aid doesn’t cover. It is a still-fresh surgical scar. Unseen in the photo is a tube running from a shunt in the back of his head, to remove fluids and relieve swelling.
Garo had a brain tumor.
It was the result of adrenal cancer.
Surgery and radiation took care of the tumor, they hope.
The chemo is attacking the cancer, they hope.
All of this just occurred, as spring burned into summer. It is all happening right now.
Yepremian is reaching out to make public what is intensely private because he wants Dolfans who might remember him to know. His Miami years were the best. It wasn’t only the nine seasons here that included the club’s halcyon, championship days, and included his Christmas Day kick that ended “The Longest Game” and put Miami in the AFC championship game for the first time.
He also met his future wife here. Maritza, a University of Miami graduate, had gone to a fast-food restaurant in North Miami in late 1970 because Garo, Mercury Morris and Larry Little were there giving out autographs for free.
“The chain is closed now,” Garo said. “It was a Chicken Unlimited.”
Their 43rd anniversary was the other day, her at his side at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, an hour or so from where they have lived the past 13 years.
It’s funny, how life is. Garo, barely 5-foot-8, was the epitome of the kicker teammates made fun of for having it easy, for never getting his uniform dirty. And for his funny accent, too, remember? Born on the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean to Armenian parents, Garo’s accent was thick and his knowledge of American football thin. Premature baldness made him seem gnome-like. He was the perfect comic relief.