A: Around 1990, someone called me about going down and fishing the Florida Keys for charity. I went down with the fella who was spearheading the whole tourney Gary Ellis. His daughter, Nicole, had cystic fibrosis — she was such a cutie at 5 years old — and I got pulled into that. Her life expectancy at that point was in the teens. I thought I would do anything to help her even if it's just raising some money. It's been paying off with a lot of great medical breakthroughs with the money it has made. She's in college today at age 25. We're still working for a cure.
Q: How much time do you spend in Boca Grande for this event?
A: I'll be there for the whole week. It's always a great time for me and my family.
Q: Why did this event move from Palm Island to Gasparilla Island last year?
A: We did the first several on Palm Island, which was great. Last year, we just decided to shake things up a little bit and moved to Boca Grande and the host hotel is Gasparilla Inn, which is an incredible place. Just for an experience for my family it couldn't be better.
Q: What surprises you about Boca Grande?
A: I think it's the best-kept secret in America. Great spot. It's got everything. Good restaurants and great beaches. We come down early because three or four days is too short a time to be there.
Q: You were in the National Football League before the big money. What do you think of the tense contract negotiations, which may wipe out some or all of next year's season?
A: I follow it very peripherally. It's a hard place to be for these guys because people don't have a lot of sympathy for their plight when you have millionaires against billionaires.
Q: Didn 't you endure a strike season?
A: In years past I was part of a strike year. Players 20 years ago, though, when they went on strike, they weren't making a lot of money and they saved a lot of money to get through it.
Q: Isn't it odd the NFL millionaires today aren't doing that?
A: What I've been reading is a lot of these players today who make millions don't have enough money to make it through the strike, which is remarkable to me. They have to go to loan sharks to get through the next six months, which speaks to the kind of player you have today. What it says is the players don't have the staying power the owners have.
These guys live way above their means — and they have pretty high means. Not all players, but there's going to be a faction who are really going to not want to strike.
Q: Do you have any lingering health issues from your playing days?
A: I think anybody who played in the NFL is going to have some joint issues when they get to be 50 or 60. The use of pain pills by former players is something that needs to be addressed. I had several concussions when I was playing.
Q: Are multiple concussions later causing dementia in former NFL players?
A: Aside from multiple head injuries during their playing days, which I definitely feel is something that has to be addressed, I don't feel the NFL has any higher incidence of dementia or Alzheimer's than the average guy. I don't think you can really say that's the cause of guys my age or younger having cognitive difficulties. There are plenty of players who played a long time who are fine.
Q: Would your NFL career have been longer today considering medical advances?
A: When you go back years ago, medical technology has come such a long way. Back then when you blew out your knee, you were done. Now, with arthroscopic surgery, they sometimes come back the same year.
Q: If you were NFL commissioner, what's one change you would make?
A: The league, teams and owners, have moral obligations to the guys who came before them who helped them make millions. I think they need to increase these guy's pensions. Another $1,000 a month to the guys who played in the 1970s and '80s would go a long way. It's not like these guys today where one night's bar tab could be $1,000.
Q: How did your career end?
A: In 1976 I left the Minnesota Vikings and went to New York Jets. The year before, I made $25,200 and was third in receiving. So I took a 10 percent pay cut and played out my option and signed with Jets for $75,000. I was having my best season ever in the league. Had a couple 100-yard rushing games in a row, living back in New York where I was born, so it was a homecoming. It lasted all of seven games. I got hurt at mid-season and it ended my career. I got six years in, which is a lot more than some other guys.
Q: Heading into your acting career, did you know “Hill Street Blues” was going to be a classic?
A: “Hill Street Blues!” That was kind of special. When it comes to television, that's a once-in a lifetime deal. It happened so early in my career I kind of didn't appreciate it. It was a good place to start.
Q: You are now starring in “Blue Mountain State” for Spike TV. How would you describe that series?
A: Blue Mountain State is an animal house football team. I play the coach. It's a pretty bawdy comedy with a lot of good-looking women.
Q: You start shooting the third season of BMS in June. Are you enjoying the work?
A: TV is so niche-oriented today. If you find the right niche you kind of endure. BMS is pretty sophomoric stuff but I'm having fun. Sex, drugs and football. I work three months and get to do whatever I want to do after. In this world, Hollywood is not immune to the economic downtown and it's great to be working now.
Ed Marinaro at the 2010 Redbone Fishing Tournament Awards banquet at the Gasparilla Inn & Club.
Fact BoxEd Marinaro at a glance
Birth date: March 30, 1950
Hometown: New York
Education: Cornell University
Family: Marinaro has a son, Eddie, with fitness expert Tracy York.
You should know: Marinaro was a cast member on a number of television series, including “Laverne & Shirley and Sisters.” He joined the regular cast of “Hill Street Blues” in 1981 playing officer Joe Coffey who was killed off while on duty in the first-season finale, but written back to life in the second-season opener because his character was so popular. Marinaro now plays a head football coach on Spike TV's comedy, “Blue Mountain State,” which started airing in January 2010.
He also recently had a guest role on "Days of our Lives" as Leo, an old friend of Bo's from his days as a merchant marine.