Don Shula figured me out immediately.

It was 1993, my first year covering the Washington Football Team. Washington was playing Shula’s Dolphins in Miami that Sunday, and as is still custom in the NFL, the local reporters have a conference call with the head coach of the opposing team during the week. The late, legendary Hall of Famer was still on Miami’s sidelines then, so it was intimidating to hear his so-recognizable voice booming out of the speakerphone.

A few minutes in, I asked him a question about the crowds so far that season in his team’s building, which was Joe Robbie Stadium.

There was a pause.

“Are you a basketball writer?” he asked.

Uh, well, I was, I said, unsure exactly how or why Shula would know I’d just come off of five seasons covering the then-Washington Bullets.

“It’s not a building,” he said, with some impatience.



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