Football, like cockfighting, is not a sweet game. Jimmy Johnson was asked recently why he didn't just order his team to stay out of trouble, to act like choirboys, or else. Johnson shot back, "Because they're not choirboys!" He has a point.
Still, Mira regrets his run-in with the law, and he wants to clarify matters. He and Janet were arguing, but that was all. He did not shove or punch the policeman, he only pushed his arm aside. He is not, he says, on steroids. His work at the hospital with patients who have spinal cord injuries has been fulfilling to him and made him thankful for the freedom he enjoys.
"I'm not nuts—people who know me know I'm a nice, easygoing guy," he says. "I'm a fiery competitor, but I don't get superhyped-up and out of control. When it's first and goal on the two, I'm calmer than ever. I don't spear. I don't cheap-shot. I don't jump on piles. I'll plant one on you—you better believe that—but I play smart and I try to play as clean as Mike Singletary.
"I'd like for us to be known as guys who maybe made some mistakes, who do some things wrong, but on Saturday we are men who perform well, who are doing a good thing for Miami. I want people to know we're trained athletes. When a ballcarrier is out there, I'm trained to seek and destroy. Don't throw your weight in my face, because I'm trained to beat the hell out of guys who weigh 300 pounds."
It is Sunday afternoon now and time to go back to Miami. Before they drive off, Janet says, "We respect each other deeply. If people saw us together, they'd know that. He's a very caring, very family-oriented person."
That is a side of George Mira Jr. that, whatever his public image, shows up clearly enough at home in Key West.