In Wisconsin, bowling might be as beloved as the dear old Green Bay Packers. Ask Greg Koch, the Dolphins offensive tackle.
Picked up by Miami in August after being waived by the Packers, Koch, who was hurt and angry, needled the Packer Backers, the team's appropriately nicknamed loyal fans. "When people in Green Bay say they have a nice wardrobe it means they have 10 bowling shirts," Koch said.
WAPL, a radio station in Appleton, Wis., heard about Koch's statement, and it began urging listeners to send Koch bowling shirts. Last week a large box filled with 130 used bowling shirts—and one bowling ball—arrived at the Dolphins' offices. The attached note read, "Dear Greg, Take a fashion risk. Wear one of these and go jump off a cliff. You remember us Packer fans. We were the ones who put clothes on your back, food on your table and a roof over your head for nine seasons. Nine losing seasons."
Says Koch, "I think it's hilarious. Bowling shirts are a hot item on college campuses. I think I'll make a lot of money from it."
Looking back, Jimmie Giles is struck by his intuition. "It was about one o'clock," Giles says, remembering the afternoon of Oct. 20, "and I was sitting in the meeting room, consoling Gerald Carter. Kevin House had been cut a half hour earlier, and Ron Springs had been cut before that. Gerald was taking it pretty hard. 'We all just have to hang in there,' I told Gerald.
"Then I heard somebody say, 'Jimmie, Coach [Leeman] Bennett wants to see you.' My heart dropped. I knew."
Nearing 32, and in his 10th NFL season—9 of them with the Bucs—and with 4 Pro Bowl appearances, including last season, Giles knew he was about to be cut. The question was, Why? He was having another good year at tight end, and he was one of the most popular and community-minded players on the team. Giles owns People's Optical, which with the help of the Tampa Lions Club, distributes hundreds of free glasses to needy children.
"Coach Bennett said, 'I'm sorry, Jimmie,' " Giles says, " 'but we're 1-6 and when we get to the Super Bowl, you won't be here anyway. We've made the decision to go with younger players.'
"I looked at him and said, 'You mean all I've done for this organization is just down the drain?' He said, 'I'm sorry.' "
Giles shook Bennett's hand and he walked back into the meeting room to say goodbye to his teammates. "My last impression of them," Giles says, "is the way they stared at me when I told them."