His Brilliant Career

Brett Perriman's gridiron days with the Dolphins may be over, but his commitment to the community where he grew up is just beginning

That Perriman can recognize Carey's disingenuousness is a testament to his own political savvy. Sadly, he's grown accustomed to politicians who seem more driven by PR than action. "A lot of our community leaders need to take more of an initiative," he says after Carey leaves. As he speaks, he tears into a lunch of roasted chicken provided by the commissioner's office.

Perriman himself is well positioned to run for public office. "Based just on name recognition and what he's done in the community, he would do well politically," opines former Miami city commissioner Richard Dunn. "Coming up from the area, the Scott housing projects, would be an asset. And money should be no problem for him. I think he would do well."

Is politics in his future?
"It will be," Perriman says quickly. "I don't want to jump on anyone's toes just yet, but it is in the plans."

That said, he insists he won't even think about moving to Miami to run for the seat currently occupied by Art Teele, should Teele be indicted as expected. For now he wants to accomplish as much as he can through sitting politicians like Carey, who he notes did participate in a vigil honoring his late brother. "I like to be indirectly involved in politics, out of the limelight," he says, finishing his chicken. "You want to be in a position where you can get the politicians to do their jobs better. With my business skills and my personality, I can get that done."

Barbara Miller, nibbling on a crust of freshly delivered potato pie, can't help but speak up. "This man," she says gazing at Perriman, "he's going to be the mayor someday."

Lunch over, Perriman heads to radio station 99 JAMZ (WEDR-FM 99.1). He has plans for an urban music concert against gun violence. He wants 90,000 people to attend, and he wants all the proceeds to fatten a scholarship fund created in his brother's name. "Everything happens for a reason," he says, returning to his brother's death. "The things we go through are for a reason. Then we can identify the problem. And then we can attack the problem."

Jerry Rushin is the radio station's general manager. He invites Perriman, Sears, and Miller into his office, which is overrun with CDs and music posters. Perriman spells out his vision for the concert and says he has a reputable promoter already onboard. From Rushin he'd like some advertising and, if possible, a musical act or two. The meeting is informal; there are no contracts to sign, no date for the concert has even been set. Sitting behind his desk in a padded leather chair, Rushin says he is more than willing to help, as soon as he sees the specifics. He also speaks of the leadership vacuum that Perriman discussed over lunch. "You know, you shouldn't have to be the one doing this," Rushin says, referring to the charity scut work. "There are other [community leaders] who are supposed to be doing this."

Perriman laughs. "There are a lot of leaders and activists in this community, but it's hard to find an active community leader," he cracks, repeating a phrase he and Sears often employ. He tells Rushin that he still plans to return to the Dolphins next season, though he allows for the first time today that his goals may be changing. "If this becomes my main focus," he tells Rushin, "if my energies need to be here, then maybe I will just go into this full-time. I'm going to do the most I can wherever I can do it."

It's late afternoon by now. Perriman leaves Rushin to swing by New Birth. He needs to sign some papers for a smaller charity gospel concert he is promoting later this month. And he is in discussions with Victor Curry about expanding the football camp concept across the county. "At these camps there's not going to be any football, though," Perriman says. "We will focus solely on the importance of education, of staying off drugs, and of stopping gun violence." The plan, no more than a concept at present, is to reach more than 100,000 kids.

He and Sears head into the church offices. Barbara Miller stays in the back seat of the Navigator, saying she'd like to rest. "Nobody knows how much he really helped me out after Coota was killed," she says softly. "He really helped me out. He lent me money and he got things in order for me. He helped out with the bills, and now he's trying hard to be my friend. Nobody knows these things, because he does them real quietlike." She looks out the car window at Perriman disappearing into the church. "He's in a lot of pain. He just don't show it to nobody."

When Sears and Perriman return, he is in high spirits. His business appointments concluded, he turns up the volume on the rap music that thumps from the stereo system. As the vehicle cruises down NW Seventh Street, Perriman twists his torso in time with the beat while he cocks his head back to warble the refrains. He is up. He shows no signs of the anguish Miller mentioned.

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