"Like a king," David said.
"No, seriously. Anything special I can get for him?"
"Yeah," David said. "When you're preparing those snacks and things for his room, make sure there's plenty of Heineken and butter-pecan ice cream. That's what he loves."
Lucky for Shellist that he checked into David's instructions with the Dolphins. Don doesn't drink Heineken, and he hates butter-pecan ice cream. Naughty boy, David. You'll get yours.
A few players on both sides said the diplomatic thing, that Shula versus Shula would give the game extra meaning. But most of the players really felt much like safety Louis Oliver, a former Dolphin and current Bengal. "What does it mean to me?" said Oliver. "Not a hell of a lot once the game starts. Sure, you'd like to help David beat his pop, but there's too much other stuff to worry about out there."
"We love Dad, but I think just about all of us are rooting for David," Donna said.
A crowd of about 60 cameramen surrounded the pregame meeting between father and son on Sunday night, recording for posterity a pair of hugs and a couple of minutes of chitchat. Then the ball was kicked off, and in less than two minutes the Bengals had issued the Dolphins a wake-up call. Two screen passes from Klingler and a 51-yard touchdown bomb to rookie wideout Darnay Scott gave the Bengals a 7-0 lead. Unfortunately for Cincinnati, that was the last time it scored. For the rest of the game the Bengal offense struggled and turned the ball over five times in a 23-7 loss.
"They played us tough, they had a good read on us," said Dolphin tight end Keith Jackson. " Louis Oliver knew what was coming. He'd yell, 'Dolphin! Dolphin!' and they'd switch to the right coverage."
"I've played on teams that were struggling the way they are now," said Miami right tackle Ron Heller. "I've seen games like this end nasty—you know, fights and stuff like that. This was a classy team that played clean, sound football."
Which speaks highly of David Shula but still leaves him 0-5 and wondering when the losing will ever end. Father and son met briefly after the game, again surrounded by a mob. Then they appeared on the TNT post-game show. "You can't hand a team like the Dolphins five turnovers," David said later.