Imagine being frozen in time with a girlfriend or a boyfriend
from 11 years ago--frozen in a passionate embrace, forever.
"Dennis and I will always be linked to each other," says Tammy
McPhee. "Probably until we die." Adds Dennis Keller, "People
remember us for that kiss, and it was so short."
Short but photogenic. On Jan. 1, 1988, moments after Miami had
beaten Oklahoma 20-14 in the Orange Bowl to win the Hurricanes'
second national championship, Keller, a seldom-used sophomore
tight end, grabbed his girlfriend, McPhee, a junior cheerleader,
pulled her close and planted a triumphant smooch on her lips.
The shot, which graced SI's cover the following week, as well as
the front page of the next day's Miami Herald, has an Alfred
Eisenstaedt feel to it.
"I remember when I found out about the picture," says Keller, 31.
"I had a really bad shoulder and hadn't done much in the game
besides block on a couple of plays from scrimmage and play on
special teams. I thought, How the hell did I get on the cover of
Adds McPhee, 31, "An anchor from a local TV station called up
and asked how it felt to be on the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
I dropped the phone and started screaming."
Keller was a member of coach Jimmy Johnson's first Miami
recruiting class, but in the opening week of practice, he tore
ligaments in his left shoulder and was redshirted. On that
championship team of the 1987 season, which featured Melvin
Bratton, Michael Irvin and Steve Walsh, he was never more than a
gap-filler. As for McPhee, well, how many cheerleaders land on
the cover of SI?
Keller, from Miami, and McPhee, from Fort Lauderdale, met in
college when they were introduced by a mutual friend and, helped
along by traveling together to road games, dated for 2 1/2
years. It was, says Keller, "one of the most special
relationships I've had." They were an Everybody's All-American
couple--he the brawny gridder, she the petite cheerleader. "We
had a lot of fun together," McPhee says, "but it was kind of
hard. He wanted to settle down. I wanted to explore the West
Coast. I was career oriented. If we were in the same town, maybe
we'd still be together."
They're not. Keller, the son of veteran NFL official Tom Keller,
lives in Arnold, Md., outside Annapolis, and works as a district
manager for Bacardi. McPhee lives in San Diego, where she was a
Chargers cheerleader for two years before becoming director of
Keller and McPhee, who are both still single, keep in touch but
only by phone. They haven't seen each other in six years. "But
that's O.K.," says McPhee. "I can always look at the cover."
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER [Cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED featuring Tammy McPhee kissing Dennis Keller]
COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS [Dennis Keller]
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK [Tammy McPhee]
Upon hearing she was on the cover, says McPhee, "I dropped the
phone and started screaming."