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Classic Training Camp Moment from 1995

In August 1995 I was looking for an advance story for the Dolphins' trip to Orlando to play the Tampa Bay Bucs in the preseaon finale. It occurred to me that Miami fans might be interested to learn what it's like to be on the road with the team, so I decided to do some digging and share what I learned.

Part of my research for the story included finding out just how well coach Don Shula was treated. And yes, the winningest coach of all time had it pretty good when the team went on the road.

I found out Shula typically got the nicest room in whatever hotel the team was staying, and usually that was a suite in a very high and security-guarded floor.

I also asked Dolphins media relations man Harvey Greene if there were any luxuries Shula typically got in his room. Well, I found out Shula got flowers, and candies, and sandwiches, and in the suite's refrigerator, he wanted beer.

Not just any beer -- Beck's beer.

And not just a couple of cans of beer but a case of beer, which by most definitions is 24 cans of beer.

So I wrote the story and thought nothing else about it -- until I arrived at the Orlando hotel where the team was staying. When I walked in the lobby entrance, I was immediately intercepted by Greene, who told me that I was probably directly responsible for his being fired.

Seems Shula had read my article and had freaked out become disturbed about the unwritten conclusion everyone must have reached after finishing the story, namely, that I was saying Shula was an alcoholic. Shula asked Greene how I came to find out he had so many beers in his suite every road trip and Greene told him he had told me.

So Shula chewed on poor Harvey's butt for the entire bus trip from the Orlando airport to the hotel, leaving the team's public relations man visibly and understandably rocked. 

Anyway, the following day came and Greene was still employed. And today he remains employed by the Dolphins as their senior vice president-media relatons. He is one of the best in the business, if not the best.

So I figured the episode was over.

And I figured wrong.

A few days later, I showed up alone to the training facility and sat down on a bench that used to be stationed just outside the locker room. After going for his routine noon run on the adjacent practice field, Shula would usually come over and sit with me on the bench and talk to me. And today was no different in that he came over and sat next to me.

It was usually a pleasant talk between us. Not this time. Not when Shula's first words to me this day were, "What the [bleep] were you doing by writing that [bleep] about me drinking beer?" Shula asked angrily.

Coach, I never wrote you drank all that beer. I wrote the beer was stocked in your fridge.

"You [bleep]. Everyone out there thinks I'm a drunk now," Shula said. "You made me look like a horse's ass. I don't drink all that beer, most of the times I don't even have one. I have that beer in there in case I have guests or if the assistants come up to the room.

"But you made it sound like I'm a [bleeping] drunk every time the team goes on the road. People are probably thinking I'm staggering around the team hotel drunk the night before games. It's not like I'm a kid anymore, I can't drink all that beer. Maybe when I was younger, but not anymore. But you made me sound like a [bleeping] drunk, you [bleep]."

It was the most anger Shula ever directed at me. It was actually the only time Shula was mad at me at all, which is saying something considering I covered him from 1990-95.

But the moment served me well. It gave me a glimpse of the venom Shula could direct at people when he was angry at them. It was an education.

And I learned something else very valuable about Shula that day. He could explode in anger one moment and move on as if nothing had happened soon afterward.

The next day, I came out to the training facility around lunch time and sat on the bench as I usually did, this time expecting the worst. And after his routine lunch time jog, Shula came over to the bench and talked with me.

As if nothing had happened.

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Thanks 'Mando! Nice and interesting read.

Good stuff!!! Thanks!!!

Armando, good story and is there any way we can read the original story about Shula?

Thanks. Keep 'em coming.

Mando,

I hope that you also learned that there are different ways of looking at or interpreting facts. As a Journalist, I hope you realize that you have a responsibility in regards to the words that you choose to describe a fact.

Your writing is good and I will continue to read you. Shula felt the same way,

Michael

Mando

In Australia where I live if the coach didn't have a case of beer in his suite on the road he'd be fired - Shula should have said come and celebrate with a cold one next time we win on the road - Shula could have done a promo for Becks aka Jimmy Johnson with his "Green Lizards"...

WD

Should have asked him if you could stop by his room on the road...and have some of his beer!

Pretty impressive you came back out the next day after Shula ripped you. Showed guts.

I *LOVE* it!!! Great story.

I remember Art Donovan telling a story when Shula was DB for Cleveland and he stole a taxi cab and posed as a cabbie, picking up some of his team-mates and raising hell in general.

Thanks for sharing Armando!

Any dummy can come out the next...guts? Naahh.

Shula was great. I'm happy to be an "Old School" guy that was around when he was the coach. Good times..

Mando,
This came out of left field but, was awesome
reading material...
Thanks...

Wasn't their a similar story that you wrote in the 90's that Shula told the bus driver "F'in Heinekens!"

Good story. Just because he has a couple of beers doesn't make him a bad guy. I don't trust teetotallers. Something about a guy that won't have a beer. (I didn't say get wasted). Most people that don't drink at all have their pantiens in a knot. See Middle East

Becks is cheap heinikens. I have case of beer for all dolphins game, not just road game. Maybe he already have the case that why he so mad. Coach Shula is greatest coach ever much better to Belicheats. Who you think win in real right Shula or Tuna?

real fight

Great story. I applaud Coach Shula for setting you straight and I bet after your candid conversation with him you became a more responsible reporter. This story highlights just how a little bit of information in the hands of the media is dangerous. Perhaps you should have asked Coach Shula why he stocked his refrigerator before you went to print with half the story. Shame on those people whom read that article and assumed the worst about Coach Shula. Anyone who knew him knew he didn't drink a case of beer over the coarse of a week, let alone a few days.

Hey Carlito,

Beck's is German and Heineken is Dutch. Both are very good beers for what they are and far superior to any of the sorry excuses of mass brewed offerings from lower North America such as Budweiser, Miller, Coors and Corona. Canada used to produce some quality mass brewed beer with Molson and Labatts but that ended when they sold out.

Eddie,

You not teaching anybody any lessons. I don't drink watered down like corona, bud and thing like this. Everybody know Belgium has best beer and most brewery in whole world.

Only a true alcoholic would react so angrily when revealed his true nature. Thank you Armando for writing this piece on alcoholism, and the effects on someone and everyone around them. I hope Coach Shula gets the help he truly needs.

Forsythe already in AA. You already to step where you tell everybody sorry?

Carlito from wussito,

I'll teach you a lesson...boy

Eddie,

No thanks, I don't like guys.

You're the man Mando. Great insight.

These days it better be Landshark.

landshark is horrible! It like corona only more water down. I hope thats not only beer at stadium now.

Nice story.

What does John Beck have to do with waterdown beer? Who is this Heinken guy??? Does he work at Shula's Steakhouse?

you derserved to get ripped mando you jerk! you made shula look like an old fat drunk!!!

Mando, you should have punched him in the mouth and stood over him like you did that dude last March.

Best flashback story thus far!

Maybe there's a story about what Parcels keeps in his mini fridge..

Kenpo...yeah right more like Karate kid gone bad

No way someone chews out Armando for an article he's written. I can' and still don't believe it.


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