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Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has a fan: Former game show host Wink Martindale

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 1/9/2020 Tom Schad, USA TODAY

a close up of a man wearing a hat: Ravens defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale © Gail Burton, AP Ravens defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Wink Martindale was laying on the couch at his California home one day in 2017, watching a Ravens game on TV, when he heard one of the announcers say his name. He jumped up off the couch. He was amazed.

“What are the odds, I thought, that two people could have the name Wink Martindale?” he thought. “I mean, maybe Wink. OK. Martindale? OK. But the two of them together? No way.”

That's how Winston “Wink” Martindale, the 86-year-old former game show host, first became aware of Don “Wink” Martindale,  Baltimore’s 56-year-old defensive coordinator.

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Although one made his living on TV and radio and the other is known for coaching defense, there’s mutual admiration between them. After the game show host joked in an interview with TMZ that the football coach owed him some tickets as compensation for using his name, the Ravens followed through.

The Ravens’ Martindale said Wednesday the team sent the former game show host an invitation via email.  The 86-year-old said he received it and really appreciated it.

“I printed it out so I don’t lose it,” the elder Martindale told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s really not possible, at this time, for me to make a trip back to Baltimore for a game. ... But I’m hoping they come out here next year to play either the Chargers or the Rams or perhaps (the Raiders) over in Las Vegas. And if that happens, then that’s when I’m going to take him up on his offer.”

Wink Martindale wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Wink Martindale: Dec. 4, 1933. © Charley Gallay/Getty Images Wink Martindale: Dec. 4, 1933. The original Martindale is perhaps best known as the host of shows like “Tic-Tac-Dough” and “Gambit” in the 1970s and ’80s, though he’s also been a radio personality and television producer over a career that has spanned six decades.

The Ravens’ Martindale, meanwhile, was first called “Wink” by a college teammate, Donald Brown, when they were linebackers at Defiance College in the early 1980s. Brown, as the story goes, saw Martindale’s last name and immediately thought of the game show host. The nickname stuck.

The younger Martindale has since become a position coach for the Raiders, the Broncos and eventually the Ravens, who promoted him to defensive coordinator last season. More recently, he has received head coaching buzz; he interviewed with the Giants last week, ahead of Baltimore’s divisional round matchup against Tennessee on Saturday.

The former game show host, meanwhile, said he’s always been a sports fan, and he now considers himself a fan of the Ravens, though not entirely because of the assistant coach who shares his name. 

“It wasn’t until the Ravens started making it big time with this quarterback of theirs, Jackson? Lamar Jackson,” the 86-year-old said. “That’s when I really became (a fan). I was a quarterback in high school, so I really appreciate the talents of a good quarterback.”

In a written statement provided by a team spokesperson Wednesday afternoon, the Ravens’ Martindale said he thinks “it’s awesome that (the original Wink) is a fan of the Ravens” and that he is a fan of the host, as well. 

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The elder Martindale now lives in a suburb of Los Angeles with his wife of 45 years, Sandy, and two chihuahuas. (“At one time, we had seven chihuahuas,” he added. “That was about five years ago.”) He said he’s still active and working and plans to host a syndicated radio show about the history of rock and roll beginning this spring.

“I guess you can say I’m semi-retired, although I’ll never be fully retired,” he said. “I steal a line from Art Linkletter. Somebody asked him, ‘Art, you ever think about retiring?’ And he said, ‘Retire from what? Hell, I’m not tired.’”

The unique twist in all of this is that the original Wink Martindale, who inspired the coach’s name, is now frequently asked if he knows his namesake. The name recognition has become a two-way street.

“I hear it all the time from people, ‘Did you know there’s a coach?’” the former game show host said. “But I think it’s just really neat, and of course the fact that he obviously is a terrific coach makes it even better.”

Contact Tom Schad at tschad@usatoday.com or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has a fan: Former game show host Wink Martindale

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