Wild card game has family ties for area man

It’s not as though I needed another reason to root against the Steelers.

But Tiffin resident Otto Gase gave me another one. Like me, Gase is a Browns fan, but he has another reason to pull for the Steelers’ opponent.

After all, his grandson Adam is the head coach of the Dolphins, who will take on the Steelers this afternoon in the wild card round of the NFL playoffs.

Adam’s team is one of the surprises in the league this season. And today, he’s taking it to a place the franchise hasn’t been since 2008.

The postseason.

When the first-year head coach leads his squad out at Heinz Field today, he’ll have some family support right here in Tiffin.

Otto Gase will be watching the game from his home at Friedman Village.

When I called Otto last week, and then again Saturday, the 91-year-old was generous with his time and friendly, and more than willing to talk about his grandson.

There’s plenty to be proud of.Before becoming the head coach for the Dolphins, the Michigan State graduate worked with Nick Saban with the Spartans and at LSU.“Saban was practically his teacher,” Otto said.Adam followed with stints with the Lions and 49ers in the NFL. He was Peyton Manning’s QB coach and then offensive coordinator in Denver (where he coached in a Super Bowl) before moving to the Bears with head coach John Fox.

And now, in his first experience as a head coach, he’s got a team in the playoffs.

“Naturally, it’s quite an achievement for a person that age,” Otto said. “I haven’t seen him for quite a while. He’s been pretty busy.”

Otto — a Seneca County native — has lived in Tiffin about 70 years, and his grandson has some history here, as well. Otto’s son Art, Adam’s father, is a Calvert graduate who went to college at Eastern Michigan, where he played football. And while Adam was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Otto said he spent some of his early years here in Tiffin, even going to kindergarten at St. Joe’s.

Arthur and his family moved to Michigan, and now he’s down in Florida.

“Most of my family all lives away from here; all been here through the holiday,” Otto said.

Otto said it’s a football family, as most of his four boys played football growing up. But Otto didn’t.

“I never played football, I’m a little country boy,” Otto said.

When asked if Adam got his football knowledge from his grandfather, Otto laughed.

“He knows more about football in his little finger than I do,” he said.

Otto said Adam isn’t the loud, boisterous type that is associated with some football coaches.

“He’s a quiet sort of a person,” Otto said. “He’s not a loud talker, but he’s straight to the point.”

That should be on display today against the Steelers. Otto said he doesn’t expect Adam to be anxious in one of the biggest games of his career, “Not for him, he’s pretty calm and collected,” Otto said. Otto said he spoke with Art, who will be watching the game from Florida.

“He has a lot of confidence in (Adam),” Otto said. “It’s his first year, he has a long way to go yet.”

But Otto said he’s excited for today, “I sure am. I’m a proud grandpa,” he said.Gotta admit, after talking with Otto, I was really pulling for his grandson — and the Dolphins — this postseason.