Don Shula

by Bryan

We all know what Don Shula said by now. He said the Patriots would deserve an asterisk should they go undefeated, right? Well, the answer is “kind of.” It’s certainly not “yes,” and it may, in fact, be “no.” Parse Gary Myers’ column on the subject, and you can see how Myers, and not Shula, inserts the topic of a Patriots asterisk and bait-and-switches Shula into supporting it.

To recap, here’s the first paragraph of the story:

Don Shula, the coach of the only perfect season in NFL history, believes the Patriots have a legitimate shot at running the table and joining his ’72 Dolphins in going undefeated in the regular season and playoffs. But if they can pull it off, Shula insists the NFL needs to place an asterisk next to the Patriots in the record books because Bill Belichick got caught cheating in the Spygate scandal.

Okay, so let’s now find where Shula “insists the NFL needs to place an asterisk next to the Patriots in the record book.” Here’s Shula’s quote:

“The Spygate thing has diminished what they’ve accomplished. You would hate to have that attached to your accomplishments. They’ve got it. Belichick was fined $500,000, the team was fined $250,00 and they lost a first-round draft choice. That tells you the seriousness or significance of what they found.

“I guess you got the same thing as putting an asterisk by Barry Bonds’ home run record. I guess it will be noted that the Patriots were fined and a No.1 draft choice was taken away during that year of accomplishment. The sad thing is Tom Brady looks so good, it doesn’t look like he needs any help.”

Shula’s saying that he thinks the Patriots’ season is tainted, but he doesn’t mention slapping an asterisk on them — instead, he compares the situation to that of Barry Bonds, where an asterisk may be forthcoming. That Bonds has not yet been punished by Major League Baseball, while the Patriots have complied with their punishment, makes it a flawed analogy, but who cares? He never mentions putting up an asterisk against the Pats. Why might we think he did? Here’s the next paragraph:

Told that he might get support in his desire to have an asterisk placed next to New England’s potential perfect season, Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history, said, “I don’t know how people can’t agree with that.”

Wait… what desire for an asterisk? Where did that come from? It looks like Myers is using Shula to support his desire for an asterisk. Shula might agree with the idea for an asterisk, but it’s fairly clear from reading the above that it’s not his campaign. If Gary Myers thinks the Patriots should have an asterisk, he shouldn’t put words in a Hall of Fame coach’s mouth.

And it’s worth noting that the Patriots aren’t even halfway there yet. Can we calm down, please?