They should sell tickets to practices for the Dell East-West Shrine game. Pulling into the lot at the Methodist Training Center on Tuesday, I saw a crowd of cars similar to opening day at training camp.
In many ways, it is the start of training camp for these young men eager to impress and find employment in the NFL. They go at it much harder than your average week of game prep. This is career prep. These players work as if one bad day can cost you a round or two in the draft and potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars to go with it.
Overseeing the auditions are Don Shula and Dan Reeves, who held court at a press conference Thursday morning. Shula said he is certainly done as a full-time coach at 77, but Reeves (63) sounds like he'd welcome the right kind of opportunity for one more dance.
You look at Shula's career spanning 33 seasons with only two losing campaigns and marvel at the consistency. You also see a man who coached Johnny Unitas, Bob Griese and Dan Marino. He coached the perfect '72 Dolphins.
When you coach that long, you also coach in some high-profile losses. He was Baltimore's boss when they lost to the Jets. He coached the Dolphins in the legendary 41-38 overtime playoff loss to the Chargers in '82. He changed with the times, bludgeoning defenses with the likes of Lary Csonka in the 70's and torching them through the air with Dan Marino in the '80s and '90s.
I've met Shula before in Miami and talked with him again this week. He's very impressed with the facilities at Reliant Stadium and admires the Texans organization. People have to realize how special it is to have him in town.
Reeves is still taking questions about his role as a consultant to the Texans last year. It was a unique six-week run as Charley Casserly and Dom Capers were having their work evaluated by a high-profile near-200 game winner who had the owner's ear. He says he supported keeping David Carr, liked Reggie Bush and thought the team should have also considered Vince Young. In other words, he's not revealing much, nor should he. Those conversations are meant for the man who wrote the check to get his input.
Speaking of Capers, I spoke with him last week and he's doing great in Miami. The Dolphins were in the top five of most of the important defensive statistical categories. Capers is about to become the highest-paid assistant in the NFL. It's nice to see him having success. Let's hope he doesn't have too much when Miami visits Reliant Stadium again next season.
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