Long before he pursued a career in coaching, Doug Marrone was trying to make an impact at the line of scrimmage for the Miami Dolphins and Hall-of-Fame Head Coach Don Shula as a guard, center and tackle.
At 6-foot-5 and 269 pounds, Marrone is an imposing figure by any standards, but now he’ll be roaming the sidelines for the AFC East rival Buffalo Bills on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium. That was a brand new stadium back in 1987 when he put on a Dolphins uniform at the age of 23 and he has fond memories of his one season here.
“It was an outstanding experience for me. Obviously, it was a short time,” said Marrone during his conference call with the South Florida media. “John Sandusky was my line coach and shoot, I even had a young Mike Westhoff, how about that? But it was really a great thing. I’ve always tried to tell people I was never really good enough to hang on in the league for a long period of time but I was able to be around some special people and really learned a lot.
“So the negative part was I wasn’t good enough to last a long time in the league but I was able to learn a lot from the coaches I was around and it’s been able to help me in my career as a coach. Coach Shula, the one thing that I’ve always learned from him is that he was always straight. He would always tell us exactly what he thought and I think one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is you never had to worry about where you stood because if he didn’t tell you that meant you were okay. I think that’s the way you have to be when you handle players.”
Of course besides Shula and his assistant coaches, Marrone had the benefit of practicing alongside Hall-of-Fame center Dwight Stephenson and going up against the likes of defensive end Doug Betters. Not to mention his quarterback was Hall-of-Famer Dan Marino, and even though he only appeared in four games he felt like part of the team.
“The guys were obviously very close and everybody worked hard,” Marrone said. “They worked hard to try to win, they were good, everyone pushed each other and it was very competitive, not just on the football field but off. I enjoyed it. St. Thomas was a little rough. That’s where we trained and I remember Stu Weinstein, the head of security, he didn’t even have an office. Now he’s got one and they have cameras everywhere. Before we had to eat our own breakfast and get our own lunch and now they have breakfast and lunch for the players, so this league has changed quite a bit from back in that day.”
Marrone used some of those lessons he learned from Shula to put together a winning program at Syracuse University before returning to the NFL as a head coach. This Sunday, he’ll maybe wax nostalgic a few seconds when he enters the stadium, but then it’s down to business.
FEEL THE BEAT
There was nothing out of the ordinary during the team’s stretching period today when it came to the music they stretched to, as it remained simple. Meek Mill’s “In God We Trust” opened the session and “Chosen One,” by Future featuring Rocko closed it out.
THIS AND THAT
THE LAST WORD
“I don’t have an opinion about that because I don’t get hit but I like hitting them and I like to think that it’s demoralizing. … You go out there and you play physical, you bring your will to them and make them kind of shudder or look over their shoulder when maybe somebody’s not there and make them throw the ball when they don’t want to. … You want them seeing all kinds of ghosts, hearing footsteps and maybe tucking before it’s time. That’s the nature of this beast and you want to be that beast causing those ghosts and those footsteps.” – Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end