There was also an application from Joe Thomas, the man who in 1961 had put the Minnesota Vikings together from scratch. He wanted to be Miami's Director of Player Personnel. Robbie, who could not have hoped for more, hired Thomas and it was Thomas who had to weed the quick from the dead on the list of players the Dolphins picked from the other AFL teams. The college draft was even harder to sort out. "The young players are the ones who will make us or break us in three years," said Thomas. "They have to be good, and they have to have glitter." With that in mind, Thomas drafted Norton, Jim Grabowski, the big Illinois fullback, and Emanuel—"the first two to make things go," says Thomas now, "and the other to make things stop." Norton constituted a risk because a leg injury had required an operation near the end of last season. But the operation was a success, and Norton quickly picked the Dolphins over the NFL Browns because "my chances of making it with a new team seemed better."
Grabowski, however, gave Thomas a jolt by signing with Green Bay. "You think getting Emanuel wasn't important then?" asks Thomas, and the successful chase was launched. Meanwhile, on the image-building front, Robbie pulled what may be the biggest upset of the season by talking Charlie Callahan, for 20 years the publicity genius at Notre Dame, into leaving South Bend and taking on the job of making the Miami team immortal. And on the team-building front he hired a head coach who was neither a hotel clerk nor an evangelist—George Wilson, late of the Detroit Lions. Wilson had 29 years in pro football, eight of them as head coach of the Lions. "He has experience," says Robbie, "and he has been a winner. Besides that, I like him."
The team still had no name, so a contest was launched that would help get the community into the spirit of things. A computer was used to tabulate results, and the answer spelled out by the machine was fortunate indeed: Dolphins. Robbie had taken an instant liking to the name and if, say, Alligators or Beachcombers had gained favor with the majority of Miamians, there is a strong possibility that the name still would have come out Dolphins.
Now that he had something to sell, Robbie went to Julian Cole, a short, round little man who used to be the press agent for Sally Rand. Cole, they say, could make Phyllis Diller the favorite in a Miss America contest, and he immediately began making a favorite out of the Dolphins. Soon paper Dolphins were leaping out from behind canned-goods displays and cartons of milk and—if you left your car untended for an instant—right out of your gas tank. Cole made deals with northern travel bureaus and now, for only slightly more than you can afford, you can be burned a fetching salmon, catch a sailfish, be wowed by Sammy Davis Jr. and get a good seat at a Dolphin game all in the same package. At present he is working on the possibility of having a real dolphin in a pool at the south end of the Orange Bowl. The dolphin would retrieve extra-point kicks that happen to land there and would leap out of the water with a flip every time the Dolphins score. Several candidates have tried out for the job, but the one Cole wants is Flipper, no less, star of network TV, who conceivably could bring in more goodwill with a single leap than a whole stadium full of baton twirlers.
"It'll be just our luck to get this solved and have the Dolphins go scoreless for about four games," said Cole recently.
"Oh, come on," said Notre Dame man Callahan, "surely we can win one for the Flipper."
The Dolphins began their summer training a month ago in St. Petersburg Beach, which is in an area known as the winter home of the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets and year-round home of the very aged. Local officials say this last is a bum rap, and it may be, for there seems to be ample opportunity for sun and fun—which is not conducive to pro football training. Wilson had some answers for that: "When I get through with them," he said, "the only thing they'll crave is bed." Six old pros were 10 minutes late for the 11 p.m. curfew one night and Wilson gave them a choice of crab-walking the length of the field backward on their hands and toes, somersaulting 100 yards or paying $100 fines. They all paid.
It was after the Dolphins' first morning workout last month that Frank Emanuel arrived for a few days of shaking hands all around and a quick scrimmage before leaving for Chicago and the All-Star Game. Emanuel was assigned to his room, where he was greeted by Rick Casares, the former Chicago Bear fullback who is giving pro ball one more try. "You've arrived, eh, kid," said Casares. "Welcome aboard."
Emanuel did not come to professional football by any easy route. Growing up in Newport News, Virginia, he was scrawny. At 9 he caught rheumatic fever and later an attack of polio briefly paralyzed his left leg. "I got awfully tired of being the smallest kid on the block," he says, "so when I was 12 I started working on a set of weights I got for Christmas. I mean working." By the time Emanuel was ready to graduate from high school he weighed 212 pounds and he threw his substantial bulk around the football field with the kind of passion that attracts college scouts—lots of them. He chose Tennessee.
"He was quick and he was tough," said one of his early Tennessee coaches, "and he wanted to be where the action was more than any player I can remember." Coaches tend to refer to such devotion as "desire," but in Emanuel's case it was something more. "Nothing," he says, "gives me greater satisfaction than a head-on tackle." He smiles when he says it, and the smile proves his point, for he suffers from linebacker's mouth. Where his front teeth should be there are souvenirs. Two gaps for Alabama, one for LSU and another for Ole Miss.