Jared Odrick: Big man, small car

DAVIE, Fla. -- Jared Odrick is a 6-foot-5, 304-pound defensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins. The five-year veteran punishes offensive linemen, tackles running backs and sacks quarterbacks for a living.

The Fiat 500 is one of the tiniest cars on the market. It's about 5 feet tall, 4 1/2 feet wide, has two doors and starts around $16,000, according to Fiat's website.

And it's what Odrick drives.

When the towering Odrick stands next to the car, it looks like he could carry it in his arms. This choice in wheels has become a topic of conversation this summer among the Dolphins, who enjoy teasing Odrick in the parking lot as they drive by in their bigger, more expensive vehicles.

"Of course they make fun of me, but that's all right," Odrick said with a smile. "I can ward off people who make fun of me. It's more the look, the reaction and the laugh. Some guys still can't get over it."

Odrick, who says he has purchased luxury cars during his playing career, was in the market for a new car this offseason, and he wanted to try something more cost-effective and fuel-efficient. The 2010 first-round pick rented the brown 500 on a trial basis and likes it so much that he plans to buy an upgraded version later this year.

"It first started off as just a first-week-of-training-camp-type thing, and it kind of stuck," Odrick said. "I didn't mind it. I think there's another one to come in the future."

Odrick suspected the Fiat might be a good fit last year, when he drove one to his celebrity golf tournament. It turned heads then, as it does now with the Dolphins.

"Some guys wanted a ride to the hotel [in training camp] just to see if they can fit in the Fiat," Odrick said.

Odrick said the two biggest teammates to ride with him are defensive lineman Kamal Johnson and offensive tackle Tony Hills. Johnson is 6-foot-3 and 314 pounds. Hills is listed at 6-foot-5 and 304 pounds.

"He's about as wide as this car, but we made it work," Odrick said of Hills.

Odrick and Hills weigh a combined 608 pounds, which is a lot of weight for any vehicle, much less a tiny Fiat. Yet Hills confirmed that the hard-to-fathom event took place.

"We were shoulder-to-shoulder, but from Point A to Point B, it works," Hills said. "I give Fiat two thumbs up for holding all that weight and getting us there on time."

Odrick says he is enjoying the differences of driving an economy car this football season. He loves filling up his gas tank just once a week, for $32. Odrick also said other drivers are nicer to him and more sympathetic, as compared to their reaction when he drove a luxury vehicle.

"It's overall a more polite and courteous vehicle," Odrick said of his Fiat. "People don't seem to mind its existence."

Odrick, 26, said this season's Fiat experiment is starting to change the way he views cars. Specifically, it has emphasized the wisdom in not spending too much for something that can quickly depreciate in value.

"Not that I have a great business mind at all, but I just try to think logically the more and more I get older," he explained. "[An expensive car] is a bad investment because it loses money as soon as you drive it off the lot. That's a money and Car 101 thing."