SOUTH BEACH — There was quite the eclectic crowd at the Reid & Fiorentino Call of Game Dinner Saturday night at the Fontainebleau South Beach.
Well, in one corner, NFL legend Joe Namath was holding court with some of the 800 guests of the charity dinner held yearly for the past decade by Miami Heat announcers Eric Reid and Tony Fiorentino.
And in the other, not too far from retired Heat center Alonzo Mourning and Miami Dolphins wide receiver Randal “Thrill” Hill stood political trickster Roger Stone, whose name keeps turning up in the special investigation into possible collusion between the presidential campaign of Donald Trump and Russia.
“I don’t know why my name keeps coming up,” said the 65-year-old Fort Lauderdale resident Stone. “I didn’t do anything.”
While he wasn’t mobbed like Namath, Stone was just as visible in his extra-baggy pants and oversized pin-striped jacket.
“You know what they say: It’s better that they talk about you than the contrary,” Stone said.
He came to the shindig with a friend to support organizer Ron Book, the Broward-based lobbyist and father of State Senator Lauren Book.
The gala, which temporarily moved from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino because of the resort’s revamping, benefits both Lauren’s Kids, the Books’ sex abuse non-profit, as well as the Dave Schools Athletic Foundation.
“I try to go to charity galas in this area occasionally,” Stone said. “It’s good for the soul.”
What’s not so good for anyone’s soul is the fact Stone is being accused by several news organization of working with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange during the latest presidential campaign to funnel negative information about Hillary Clinton to Trump and his aides.
“I did not get anything from Assange or WikiLeaks,” he said Saturday, a statement mirroring what he told CNN earlier.
Stone, who cut his political teeth in Richard Nixon’s White House in the 1970s, added it’s too early for Republicans to start panicking now about an expected congressional bloodbath in the November elections.
“It’s too early to tell what’s going to happen,” he said. “The economy is strong. Trump is going to be a peacemaker with North Korea. Things are looking up.”
Namath, meanwhile, was feted later in the evening when he was given the Don Shula Sports Legend award.
By Don Shula himself.
The 73-year-old Namath’s New York Jets beat the 88-year-old Shula’s overwhelmingly favorite Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in 1969 in Miami, a game that’s often considered one of football greatest ever.
And even if the long-time Dolphins coach seems frail these days in his wheelchair, he showed on the stage of the Reid & Fiorentino dinner he’s just as sharp-tongued as ever when he half-joked: “I can’t believe I’m presenting Joe Namath with an award.”
We’ve got all the pics of the special night below, in Mike Jachles’ photo gallery.