Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Shula a Shell of Jutted-Jaw Coaching Icon

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Shula a Shell of Jutted-Jaw Coaching Icon

Article excerpt

The news conference was set to begin, and there was Don

Shula, same as ever. His chin was chiseled and set; his hair

slicked back with a tinge of gray.

It was all the same, a scene he knew from experience. At a

pregame news conference Monday, South Florida's media shined

its lights on the NFL's all-time winningest coach as it had

for 2 1/2 decades. A public relations flack said, "Let's keep

this quick."

And Shula quipped: "Why? I don't have anything to do."

And everyone knew, as if they didn't before, nothing was the

same. Shula may have looked like Shula this week when carted

around on a promotions spree by DirectTV, but what the public

saw was something less.

Shula with nothing to do is sad; Shula as shill is sadder.

I doubt Shula knows how he looked. As imageconscious as he had

been in his career, probably not, but it never should have been

that way, and at first, it wasn't.

When Miami opened the preseason at Joe Robbie Stadium three

weeks ago, the media hunted for Shula. He was hidden in a luxury

suite, avoiding the dishonor of being seen watching -- not

coaching -- the Dolphins for the first time since Nixon was in

the White House.

Far from unavailable when the Dolphins played the Vikings on

ABC's Monday Night Football, Shula -- prodded by the NFL and

DirectTV -- was in the press box for a chummy chat with Frank,

Al and Dan, talking about the Dolphins, his relationship with

new coach Jimmy Johnson and, of course, DirectTV.

He did the same the next day on a DirectTVsponsored conference

call with NFL writers. Asked about JJ Tuesday, he avoided

revealing his opinion of a man who long lobbied for, and finally

last January got, his job. …

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