Don Shula’s steakhouse chain turns 25 years old this year, and yet the Dolphins icon still calls himself “just the pretty face that goes along with it.”
Of course, he’s more than that. Shula is also a bit of a comedian.
At the silver anniversary party for Shula’s Steak House in Miami Lakes on Wednesday – attended by Dolphins luminaries Dan Marino, Bob Griese, Larry Little, Mark Duper and others – Shula was cracking wise.
“I’m not good in the kitchen ... but I’m good in other parts of the house,” said Shula, now 84.
When Shula opened that first restaurant near the Palmetto Expressway’s Big Bend in 1989, he just wanted to “do a good job” – never expecting that the venture would become a behemoth with some three-dozen locations.
But when he moved to Miami in 1970, Shula never anticipated he would spend the next four decades here, either.
“When I got down here, I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “And then, it kept growing and growing. The fans became very proud of us, and wanted to be part of the action.”
Shula added: “You take on what’s right in front of you. You want to do the best you can with the opportunities that you have.”
In an exclusive interview with the Miami Herald on Wednesday, the winningest coach in league history touched on a range of issues. Among them:
▪ Marino’s increased role within the organization: “That’s good. If he wants to do it, takes the time to do it, he’ll definitely be an asset.” When informed that Marino is sitting in on meetings with the quarterbacks, Shula replied: “He didn’t sit in on my meetings.”
▪ If the 2014 Dolphins are a playoff team: “Yeah, I don’t see why [not]. They look good. Defensively, they’re pretty good. And you’ve got to like [Ryan] Tannehill. He’s a good athlete playing quarterback. That shows up when he gets outside that pocket.”
▪ His thoughts on Marino, the quarterback: “The best pure passer to play the game. I don’t know who’s ever been a better pure passer than Dan.”
▪ On Shula’s fondest memories as a coach: “The consistency, the way that we played. We were always the least-penalized team. Our guys are smart guys, they never made mental errors. We never beat ourselves. That’s very helpful. Don’t make mistakes that cost you the ballgame. We were noted for guys that knew what they were doing, didn’t make errors, and made big plays, consistently.”
▪ If the passion South Florida showed for his Dolphins teams can ever be replicated: “I don’t know why they can’t. I like everything that’s going on, especially Joe [Philbin], the way he has handled himself, carries himself. He’s got a good background. You can tell the players want to play for him and respect him.”
Running back Lamar Miller remains on track to play Sunday after spraining his shoulder in last weekend’s win against the Chargers. He practiced on a limited basis for the third straight day Thursday.
Tight end Dion Sims, meanwhile, continues to slowly work back from a toe injury that kept him out of Week 9. He hasn’t practiced all week.
Along with Miller, eight other Dolphins were limited in their participation Thursday: TE Charles Clay (knee); G Daryn Colledge (back); LB Koa Misi (ankle); G Mike Pouncey (hip); S Jimmy Wilson (hamstring); DT Earl Mitchell (abdomen); LB Kelvin Sheppard (hip/groin); LB Jordan Tripp (ankle).