Dan Marino didn’t meet Don Shula before being drafted by Dolphins

Getty Images

The tributes and memories of legendary NFL coach Don Shula continue, and one of the best players he ever coached has shared a very specific memory regarding his first interaction with Coach Shula.

Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, arguably the best player Shula ever coached, didn’t even talk to Shula before the Dolphins ended Marino’s round-one free-fall in 1983, with the 27th overall pick.

“My first memory was coming for minicamp,” Marino told reporters on Monday. “First time I met him, I walked into his office and the funny part was before the draft, I never talked to Coach Shula, none of the scouts or anything because I didn’t think they thought I was going to be available for them to draft me. So the first time I really talked to Coach Shula besides on the phone draft day saying, ‘Hey, how’d you like to be a Dolphin?’ was in his office coming to minicamp.

“I remember it was a little intimidating because it was the first time you’re meeting a head coach — a guy that was so successful — but I do remember what he told me was, ‘I want you to come in in good shape, be prepared, prepare yourself this summer as if you had come in to be the starter,’ and he made an impact on me right away that way. He believed in me. He was like, ‘I believe in you. I want you work that way so you can come in and compete and actually feel like you’re going to be the starting quarterback.’ That just gave me a lot of confidence right off the bat. That was my first meeting with Coach Shula.”

Marino also addressed Shula’s willingness to embrace and utilize the talents of the players that he had on his roster. In the 1970s, it was a running team, so they ran. In the ’80s, it was a passing team. So they passed.

“I think that is what a great coach — a coach like Coach Shula or any great coach — would do, is you just, you evolve to the talent that you have and their abilities and what they do best,” Marino said. “I think he noticed that we had two really special guys on the outside in [Mark] Duper and [Mark] Clayton and the fact that I was coming in — a quarterback that had a chance to be pretty darn good — and so you evolve to that. That’s what he was doing as a head coach, and that’s just being smart. . . . [H]e told me to come in and learn the playbook in a way that he wanted me to call my own plays in practice and camp and minicamp and all of that, and I thought that was genius because he put a lot more pressure on me as a quarterback to learn quicker. I feel like I was able to start and play a lot quicker because of that reason, because of that pressure he put on me, and I always thought that was genius with him.”

Shula was a genius in many ways, but his biggest genius came from finding a way to always get the most out of his teams. In 33 years, he had only two losing seasons. He had the only perfect 17-0 season. He was one of the all-time greats, so great that perhaps the Dolphins’ tribute to him shouldn’t be a one-season thing but a permanent fixture to their uniforms, like the “GSH” on the sleeves of Bears’ jerseys and the “AL” sticker on the backs of Raiders’ helmets.

16 responses to “Dan Marino didn’t meet Don Shula before being drafted by Dolphins

  1. The Dolphins made it happen, though Marino should have been a Steeler. You wonder what might have happened if David Overstreet had lived and AJ Duhe, Dwight Stephenson, John Offerdahl, Louis Oliver and other young promising, Dolphin players had not had short careers but thats football.

  2. I think the adjusting to your personnel comment, is a great trait and probably Shula’s best.

    A lot of coaches refuse to do that, become pigoneholed, etc, and have a short shelf life. I can tell what an Andy Reid, Mike Tomlin, etc, type coach is going to do before the game is played.

    Same with Dungy.

    A big part of BB walking from Brady has to do with this, too. Patricia, Flores, Vrabel, etc, all knew what Brady’s tendencies and flaws were. They all induced him and beat him.

    The game is moving faster now and you need a QB who can move better and move their feet better.

    I believe it was Marino who said it too…It’s not the arm that goes, it’s the feet.

    Organizations that are always seeking to adjust, are the successful organizations.

    I just think it’s pretty damning on Shula that and Marino never won. They got smoked by SF in ’84 and then got bounced the next year at home in the title game to NE. The next 10 years, it ended up being a slow descent and it was literally because Miami never got quality RBs to help Marino, ironically. Even great QBs need a run game here and there.

  3. Integrity, commitment, loyalty. Unfortunately, the loyalty probably hurt his ability to win with Marino. That defense was never championship calibre and they couldn’t recover from those early 80’s stars on defense that retired early.

  4. Miami defenses during many of Marino’s years weren’t that great, either. The D in ’84 was pretty weak and Niners rolled over it. I think the most telling part of it all is that Shula told him to call his own plays in camp/preseason and put the onus on Marino to learn. While Shula was a control freak as most great coaches are, he gave control to a rookie to call his own plays. That’s pretty telling of what he thought of Marino.

  5. nflhistorybuff68 says:
    May 5, 2020 at 10:38 am
    The Dolphins made it happen, though Marino should have been a Steeler. You wonder what might have happened if David Overstreet had lived and AJ Duhe, Dwight Stephenson, John Offerdahl, Louis Oliver and other young promising, Dolphin players had not had short careers but thats football.

    15 0 Rate This

    —————–

    Well, it was easier to win in the pre Cap era. I mean, if BB never had to walk from his great draft picks as teams wildly overpay, NE would be 16-0 every other year for crying out loud.

    Look at all the names that left due to the Cap.

    Just imagine if Goodell wasn’t hired by Woody Johnson of the Jets to target BB because of how great he is?

    NE would have 10 rings by now if there was no cap. All the players BB had to walk from in particular affecting SB 46 or even SB 52, would be wins.

    If no distraction and media lies off of Framegate I, would also be another title.

    BB could literally keep every really good or great player he wanted like Shula was able to do.

    So, you can’t just whine about players Shula brought in there, who had “short” careers. FA and the Cap means GMs are always dealing with short stints for players on teams.

    The Cap is set up to try to get teams to fail, so the winning and money is evenly distributed.

  6. pbdisciple says:
    May 5, 2020 at 11:31 am
    Miami defenses during many of Marino’s years weren’t that great, either. The D in ’84 was pretty weak and Niners rolled over it. I think the most telling part of it all is that Shula told him to call his own plays in camp/preseason and put the onus on Marino to learn. While Shula was a control freak as most great coaches are, he gave control to a rookie to call his own plays. That’s pretty telling of what he thought of Marino.

    0 0 Rate This

    ———————

    If it was weak, they wouldn’t have gotten to the SB. I don’t think it was great, but it was good.

    The Blackwood brothers, AJ Duhe, Kim Bokamper, Doug Betters, Bob Baumhower, Bowser, Burdzinski the Killer Bs. If your D has a nickname, you’re at least good.

    A lot of those guys in the early 80s, were drafted and brought along by the underrated Bobby Beatherd who was the GM in the late 1970s.

    In Baltimore, Shula had George Young, another all time great GM. It seemed like when those GMs went away, Shula struggled in that area.

    This another difference between BB and Shula, if people want to compare.

    BB is the greatest GM of all time. He’s executed the brilliance in the Cap Era.

  7. In Marinos rookie year in 1983 the defence under Bill Arnsparger was excellent, they even beat the 49ers that year but then he left and the defence couldnt adjust. As long as Arnsparger was with Shula, the teams were SB contenders. Starting with their 1984 draft, the Dolphins had terrible drafts that never could produce enough talent to help Marino win again but Buffalo became the bully on the block.

  8. Shula could coach but his drafts in the 80’s & early-mid 90’s were mostly subpar, other than having Marino fall in his lap in 1983. During this era, Miami had a QB and 2 receivers & not much else. Shula drafted Florida RB Lorenzo Hampton in the 1st round despite being the Gators 3rd running back. He drafted John Bosa, Eric Kumerow, Jackie Shipp, Sammie Smith, Billy Milner, Tim Bowens & Randall Hill all in the 1st round & all were busts or underachievers.

  9. tylawspick6 says:
    May 5, 2020 at 10:47 am

    A lot of coaches refuse to do that, become pigoneholed, etc, and have a short shelf life. I can tell what an Andy Reid, Mike Tomlin, etc, type coach is going to do before the game is played.

    ***********************************************************************************

    “Short shelf life” and then include Mike Tomlin. Tomlin has the 3rd longest tenure with his current team in the NFL. Seriously, just stick to the Pats because you immediately go off the rails otherwise.

  10. mmmpierogi says:
    May 5, 2020 at 12:45 pm
    tylawspick6 says:
    May 5, 2020 at 10:47 am

    A lot of coaches refuse to do that, become pigoneholed, etc, and have a short shelf life. I can tell what an Andy Reid, Mike Tomlin, etc, type coach is going to do before the game is played.

    ***********************************************************************************

    “Short shelf life” and then include Mike Tomlin. Tomlin has the 3rd longest tenure with his current team in the NFL. Seriously, just stick to the Pats because you immediately go off the rails otherwise.

    0 0 Rate This

    ——————————-

    Tomlin absorbed a HOF QB and a good organization. In most other situations, he would have been fired YEARS ago.

    I mean, the dude only got to an won a SB in 2008 when Brady was out for the year. That’s the main reason.

    That and Big Ben’s great performance in the Cardinals.

    He can’t beat NE and they’re the same built team they always are, which is why NE has lost to him only twice in the last 15 years.

    Thanks for proving my point. The only people who think Tomlin is an elite coach are homer Steelers fans. He’s not. He’s dumb, too.

    The Rooneys using their own Rooney Rule to try to prove a point doesn’t mean much.

    If Dungy didn’t have Manning for example? He’d be a mediocre or bad coach. It’s true. How these guys get propped up so high is disrespectful to the truly great coaches.

    Dungy has no business in the HOF for example. How is this “off the rails”? It’s all true.

  11. tylawspick6 says:
    May 5, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    mmmpierogi says:
    May 5, 2020 at 12:45 pm
    tylawspick6 says:
    May 5, 2020 at 10:47 am

    A lot of coaches refuse to do that, become pigoneholed, etc, and have a short shelf life. I can tell what an Andy Reid, Mike Tomlin, etc, type coach is going to do before the game is played.

    ***********************************************************************************

    “Short shelf life” and then include Mike Tomlin. Tomlin has the 3rd longest tenure with his current team in the NFL. Seriously, just stick to the Pats because you immediately go off the rails otherwise.

    0 0 Rate This

    ——————————-

    Tomlin absorbed a HOF QB and a good organization. In most other situations, he would have been fired YEARS ago.

    I mean, the dude only got to an won a SB in 2008 when Brady was out for the year. That’s the main reason.

    That and Big Ben’s great performance in the Cardinals.

    He can’t beat NE and they’re the same built team they always are, which is why NE has lost to him only twice in the last 15 years.

    Thanks for proving my point. The only people who think Tomlin is an elite coach are homer Steelers fans. He’s not. He’s dumb, too.

    The Rooneys using their own Rooney Rule to try to prove a point doesn’t mean much.

    If Dungy didn’t have Manning for example? He’d be a mediocre or bad coach. It’s true. How these guys get propped up so high is disrespectful to the truly great coaches.

    Dungy has no business in the HOF for example. How is this “off the rails”? It’s all true.
    ==
    I’m not sure about being ALL true, but you do make some valid points. Tomlin did inherit a very good QB and solid team that was built to win by the previous coach. The team (Steelers) has slowly gotten worse during his tenure. Dungy, however, was very good with Tampa before going to Indy with Peyton. Although it is very telling that Gruden won the super bowl with the same players who couldn’t make it with Dungy before, right after Dungy left. Then of course, Gruden & team management gutted Tampa’s roster and set them back about a decade or more.

  12. mumfio says:
    May 5, 2020 at 1:43 pm
    tylawspick6 says:
    May 5, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    mmmpierogi says:
    May 5, 2020 at 12:45 pm
    tylawspick6 says:
    May 5, 2020 at 10:47 am

    A lot of coaches refuse to do that, become pigoneholed, etc, and have a short shelf life. I can tell what an Andy Reid, Mike Tomlin, etc, type coach is going to do before the game is played.

    ***********************************************************************************

    “Short shelf life” and then include Mike Tomlin. Tomlin has the 3rd longest tenure with his current team in the NFL. Seriously, just stick to the Pats because you immediately go off the rails otherwise.

    0 0 Rate This

    ——————————-

    Tomlin absorbed a HOF QB and a good organization. In most other situations, he would have been fired YEARS ago.

    I mean, the dude only got to an won a SB in 2008 when Brady was out for the year. That’s the main reason.

    That and Big Ben’s great performance in the Cardinals.

    He can’t beat NE and they’re the same built team they always are, which is why NE has lost to him only twice in the last 15 years.

    Thanks for proving my point. The only people who think Tomlin is an elite coach are homer Steelers fans. He’s not. He’s dumb, too.

    The Rooneys using their own Rooney Rule to try to prove a point doesn’t mean much.

    If Dungy didn’t have Manning for example? He’d be a mediocre or bad coach. It’s true. How these guys get propped up so high is disrespectful to the truly great coaches.

    Dungy has no business in the HOF for example. How is this “off the rails”? It’s all true.
    ==
    I’m not sure about being ALL true, but you do make some valid points. Tomlin did inherit a very good QB and solid team that was built to win by the previous coach. The team (Steelers) has slowly gotten worse during his tenure. Dungy, however, was very good with Tampa before going to Indy with Peyton. Although it is very telling that Gruden won the super bowl with the same players who couldn’t make it with Dungy before, right after Dungy left. Then of course, Gruden & team management gutted Tampa’s roster and set them back about a decade or more.

    0 0 Rate This

    —————–

    Thank you for being a normal, rational adult acknowledging I made some good points. This is how discussion/debate should go around here.

    The only thing I would counter with is that Dungy got exposed in Indy. The defense in TB was really Monte Kiffin’s. With BB and the late Jim Johnson from the Eagles, they were really the preeminent defensive minds of the last 20 years or so in the league.

    If Dungy was so great you’d think all the picks on D they had would have offset Manning on offense, and it wouldn’t be such a struggle for them to dribble out just 1 SB win.

    He’s not bad by any stretch, but he’s just not HOF caliber. Nor is Tomlin.

    Tomlin fielded the worst pass D in the league in 2006 in Minnesota that year. Truth. How you do that and then get a head coaching gig is beyond me.

  13. tylawspick6 says:
    May 5, 2020 at 2:05 pm
    ==
    I agree with this also. While I have made comments about Belichick hitting the lottery with both Lawrence Taylor & Tom Brady, He is an elite defensive mind. Kiffin & Johnson were elite also. But before Dungy, Tampa was an eternal league doormat. Steve Young couldn’t win with them & Bo Jackson refused to play for them. I can’t & won’t discount that fact. Dungy just for some reason kept settling for mediocre QB’s. Their D almost beat St.Louis’ greatest show on turf without a quality QB in the NFL Championship.

  14. Nobody is whining about players that had potential but short careers for Shula.

    I was just wondering aloud if those players could have helped win Marino and Shula a SB during their window between 83 – 87 when they had their best players.
    Like I said before, their drafts later on were full of busts and misjudgements.

  15. tylawspick6 says:
    May 5, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    Tomlin absorbed a HOF QB and a good organization. In most other situations, he would have been fired YEARS ago.

    **************************************************************

    Tomlin “absorbed” an 8-8 team and a young QB with 3 years of experience. (And as for “absorbing” Ben, Cowher didn’t even initially want to draft Roethsliberger! He wanted an o-lineman. Dan Rooney had to talk him into it. So, even had Tomlin been there, pretty god chance Ben would’ve been drafted under him because the push originated with Rooney). Also, strange how Roethlisberger’s spent 13 years now with Tomlin, but for some reason, Tomlin gets no credit in how that played out.

    I’m not the one who referring to coaches who’ve been with the same team for almost 15 years as “short shelf life,” which you never explained how that’s an accurate statement. Instead, we get to hear about Tony Dungy.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.