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Where are they now? Gary Dunn

Dunn used Steelers as key to success in Florida

Monday, October 06, 2003

By Rich Emert, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Gary Dunn was something of a free spirit during his tenure as a defensive lineman with the Steelers in the 1970s and '80s. That's why his answer to how he ended up as an innkeeper in the Florida Keys was not totally unexpected.

"I wish I knew," he said with a laugh.

Dunn has been the owner/maintenance man/bar tender/receptionist/maid at the Ocean View Inn & Pub for seven year in Islamorada, Fla. He bought the seven-room inn along with former Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman Dennis Harrah.

Harrah returned to Los Angeles a couple of years ago, leaving the business to Dunn.

"Dennis was my roommate in college [Miami] and we were looking for something to get into when this became available," Dunn said. "We thought it would be a good investment ... we didn't know how much work it would be.

"It didn't have a pool when we bought it, so we added a pool, and it didn't have a kitchen, so we added that."

The inn is about 90 minutes from the Miami airport. Dunn admits life in the Keys is different.

"There's no corporate America down here, so you've got to sort of figure out what to do," he said. "That's why Dennis and I got into this."

There are worse places to live and work than the Florida Keys, but Dunn is quick to point out being a small businessman has its drawback even in the Sunshine State.

"It's nice to be your own boss but we can't really afford too much help, so you end up doing everything yourself," he said. "That can make for some long days."

While not as well-known at the members of the Steel Curtain -- Joe Greene, Ernie Holmes, L.C. Greenwood and Dwight White -- Dunn was an outstanding defensive lineman for the Steelers and owns two Super Bowl rings. He started 15 of 16 games in 1979 when the Steelers won Super Bowl XIV.

Dunn was a sixth-round draft pick in 1976 after starting for the Miami Hurricanes for four years. His final season with the Steelers was 1987 and he is still ninth on the Steelers' all-time sack list with 35.

Winning two Super Bowls were the highlights of his NFL career, but Dunn also remembers an interception he had against Denver's John Elway in a 1984 playoff game.

"I was supposed to occupy the center and allow the linebackers to go after the quarterback on one of our blitz plays," Dunn said. "We worked on it in practice and there really wasn't a lot for me to do on the play, so the coaches said if the fullback comes out for a pass, I was to take him.

"We run the play against Denver and the fullback stayed in to block, but I dropped back in coverage anyway and ended up intercepting the ball. I can remember [safety] Donnie Shell saying, 'Dunn, what are you doing back here?'"

Dunn finished his career with nearly 400 tackles and is in the University of Miami Hall of Fame. He considered getting into coaching when he retired but needed to get away from the game for a while.

For a time he was employed by a Budweiser distributor in Homestead, Fla., and worked the Fort Lauderdale to Key West territory.

"That was a learning experience," he said."

"I really liked Pittsburgh, but then I stayed there one winter and didn't see the sun for a while," he said. "That was it."

Even though Dunn is removed from the area, he's still has a Pittsburgh mentality. Steelers games are on the televisions in the inn's lounge and Dunn said he has a neon Iron City beer sign in the window.

"I was 23, 24 when we won those Super Bowls," said Dunn, 50, who along with his wife Karen has a daughter, Iris, 8, and a son, Eddie, 6. "I've come to appreciate being apart of those teams even more over the years."


Have a idea for, "Where are they now?" E-mail emert196@comcast.net

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