There’s a lot of closely-guarded information in the NFL. From playbooks to playsheets, playcalls, and audibles, there’s often a lot of secrecy on many fronts. But it’s interesting to see a coach being extremely cagey about something not related to his team at all. That’s new Miami Dolphins’ defensive coordinator Vic Fangio with a family meatball recipe passed down for more than a century, though, as Dan Pompei of The Athletic writes in a new profile of Fangio.

Some highlights from that:

In 1919, Andelinda and Anthony Fangio left Castiglione, Italy, for Dunmore, Pa. In Andelinda’s trunk was the recipe, which she passed down to her daughter Alice. Years later, when Alice’s son Victor set out on his own, she put the recipe to paper for him.

The new defensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins — he goes by Vic now — had the recipe laminated and has displayed it wherever he lives, helping make houses into homes. It is well-traveled, as Fangio has lived in 15 places since becoming a coach.

Whenever Fangio and Kathy Maruyama, his girlfriend of 12 years, eat at an Italian restaurant, they order meatballs to see if they compare. They never do — the consistency isn’t the same, and they aren’t as flavorful or moist.

…Fangio follows Andelinda’s recipe closely — but not entirely.

“I have my own little twist,” he says. “And that’s a secret.” Such a secret, in fact, that when he’s preparing the meatballs, he asks Maruyama to look away at certain times.

One, that’s impressive to have such a long-held family recipe, and to take it with you from place to place in a nomadic coaching career. Some of Fangio’s stops include the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars of the USFL (1984-85, defensive assistant), the New Orleans Saints (1986-1994, where he was the linebackers’ coach for the famed “Dome Patrol” unit), and then seven different NFL teams as defensive coordinator (plus a 2019-21 stint as the Denver Broncos’ head coach, which he’s seen above during).

And the recipe does tie into plenty of other notes Pompei includes on Fangio’s preparation and secrecy. And Fangio is willing to reveal some of its secrets in that piece, including some of the ingredients (ground beef, ground pork, and Parmesan cheese, a tomato paste/tomato puree sauce) and preparation (a low simmer in the sauce for several hours, then sitting in the turned-off pot overnight).  But he’s apparently unwilling to share the full details even with his girlfriend of 12 years, so perhaps this secrecy is going a little too far.

[The Athletic; photo from Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.