This is where sports' reigning hermit possibly lives, protected by friends, geography and a six-foot hedge. Public records say he owns this unassuming, two-story home. But no family member or former teammate will confirm it. No telephone number is available. And there's only a decades-old football photo to measure the man in the front yard against.
"Jake's up in the house,'' the man says, pointing up a half-dozen stairs to a wooden porch with a screen door. "Who're you?"
"A writer from Florida,'' I say, walking toward the stairs, leaving the man chuckling a this-could-be-good chuckle.
He knows what everyone does: Jake Scott doesn't do interviews, rarely surfaces in public, divorced himself from the Dolphins, declined a College Football Hall of Fame bid, didn't join most other Super Bowl MVPs again last year in Detroit and has pulled such a Howard Hughes that a sports memorabilia dealer, showing the kind of focus that sends others in search of Sasquatch, once hired a private investigator to contact him. It took two years.
"HEY, JAKE!" the man in the driveway yells up at the house. "A WRITER'S HERE TO SEE YOU!"
Scott's final Dolphins moment in 1976 was spent yelling with Don Shula. Defensive lineman Manny Fernandez says Scott wasn't asked to sing his college fight song like other rookies his first training camp because, "He's the one guy no one messed with." A Colorado mountain man once heard Scott was a football player and picked a bar fight, saying, "I'm the toughest guy in here." Scott dropped him like a shirt off a hanger, and then asked, "No one's tougher in here than him?"
These are some dots. Connect them and you understand the possibilities as the screen door opens and the ghost walks out in a purple golf shirt tucked into faded blue jeans. It must be him. It's that football photo time-aged forward.
At 61, he's still trim. He's completely bald. Oversized glasses cover his face like two storm windows. And he's smiling, thank God. I double-check to be sure.
"Hi, how you doing?'' he says.
He shakes hands. He talks in a soft, friendly voice still rooted in Georgia. He says, "I'm not hard to find." He says, "I don't want a story written." He says, "If you'd ask questions, then I'd have to tell the truth." He says, "I live the simplest life you can imagine -- wake up every day and decide whether to golf, fish or have a drink."
From this front porch, the Pacific peeks through palm trees across the quiet road. Warm air rides in on a noonday breeze. Scott puts one foot up on the railing and allows the conversation to drift. He tells how his home sat alone on this road when he arrived in 1982. Now the world has joined him. A small place beside him just sold for $1.9 million. A big lot across the road, against the ocean, went for $29 million.
He says, "That's how it goes." He says, "Beautiful here, isn't it?" He says, "Too bad my boat just had its propeller damaged or I'd take you out fishing -- just you and me, not for a story."
After 10 minutes, it seems I've scaled the mountain, found the wise man, but won't get to ask the three questions carried across time: What the heck has he been doing with his life? Are the testosterone-rich stories teammates tell about him true? And what's up between him and Shula?
Then Scott says something I find out later makes his friends listening inside look at each other in surprise:
"I'll be at the Tahiti Nui at 5 if you want a drink."
Regulars at the bar