Mike Mamula has been a lot of things to a lot of different people. He’s been a cautionary tale to those easily seduced by eye-popping performances at the NFL Draft Combine. He’s been a source of frustration for Eagles fans thanks to his singular ability to consistently arrive at the opposing quarterback a half-second after the ball was released.
And to those who read A.J. Daulerio’s 2006 Deadspin Eagles Season Preview, he’s been a never-ending punchline. Specifically, after going point-by-point through yet another disappointing Eagles loss, A.J.’s exasperated father would inevitably ask the host of WIP’s postgame show “But where was Mamula?”
The question is beautiful in its simplicity. In four words it captures the frustration, disappointment, anger, wild expectation, retrospective disbelief over setting such wild expectations, and inevitably the heartbreak inherent in being an Eagles fan.
The phrase is also incredibly versatile. It can be angry, sarcastic, forlorn, or exclamatory. The defensive line is getting destroyed in the run game? BUT WHERE WAS MAMULA? The front four is getting zero pressure on the quarterback? BUT WHERE WAS MAMULA? Andy Reid burns a timeout because the defense only had ten men on the field? BUT WHERE WAS MAMULA?
See? How cathartic is that? I’ve never felt so good asking a rhetorical question. The satisfying part of the question is that there is no answer. Quite simply, Mamula’s whereabouts are best left unknown.
Well, that’s what I told myself until my world was rocked on Sunday night.
As a married man I am often subjected to televisions shows I’d never in a million years watch but for maintaining marital harmony. By in large these shows appear on either Lifetime or Bravo.
My wife often complains that sports never end. I am firmly entrenched in a twelve months a year sports watching regimen – baseball, basketball, football, hockey, soccer. She’s right, it never ends. It’s amazing.
Well, the devious folks over at Bravo have taken a page from the world of sports and have created so many seasons of “The Real Housewives” that it too never ends. Andy Cohen is an evil genius.
So, imagine my surprise on Sunday night when some indeterminate episode of “The Real Housewives” ended and the pilot of a new reality show called “Thicker Than Water: The Marinos” began. The details of the show are not important.
Essentially, it’s a show about four adult siblings, all of whom are married, who do stuff in front of tv cameras. I think that pretty much sums it up.
What is important is that the show takes place somewhere in South Jersey – I think maybe Bordentown. The final scene is a birthday party for one of the Marino people who for some reason has a television show.
Again, the specifics don’t matter. There’s a quick cut to a shot of three guests on the porch.
My eyes locked in on the guy in the middle. No. No shot. Wait. Let me pause this and take a closer look. Is it? It kind of looks like him. That’s got to be him.
Oh my god. THERE’S MAMULA!
After all of these years of asking the question he just appears on my TV screen – on Bravo? He’s a guest at the birthday party of someone who has a reality television show? That’s where Mamula is?
It makes zero sense, which in a strange Mamulian way makes total sense. I am maybe 99% certain that’s him. However, you’re crazy if you think I won’t cling to that 1% chance it’s actually not him.
I don’t want to live in a world where you can answer the question “But where was Mamula?”
Here's a larger shot, next to this flickr photo of Mamula for comparison.
From the 2006 Archives: Mike Mamula can swim