"What's that thing?"
"It's legal," he said. "It's not part of the shoe."
I told the coach about the brace, but he wasn't upset. I think he already knew.
In Miami, Mingo's kicking started to go bad, and they cut him. I finished the 1967 season as the Dolphins' kicker and in many respects had my best year. I kicked a 48-yard field goal that still stands as a Miami record and a 47-yarder and was seven out of nine inside the 50-yard line. I came to like Miami. Carol and I rented an apartment. The next year I was cut. The Dolphins decided to go with Jimmy Keyes, who could play linebacker as well as kick.
I went back to the telephone. I made my calls from a pay booth by a U-Tote'M food store on LeJeune Road, near our apartment. I wanted to be isolated. I had everything written out—what I would say, what I anticipated he would say.
I had to keep the door closed because of the traffic noise, and the sweat poured off me. Usually the coach's secretary would answer and ask for my name, but I wouldn't leave a number because I knew they wouldn't call back. I kept dialing until I reached the coach.
Whenever I got a quick no I was usually too flustered to say anything but O.K. Then I'd hound myself to get tougher. "You dummy. You're being too respectful. Don't let him say no like that. You gotta get up for these calls."
I called Green Bay, Buffalo and San Diego before I finally got a bite from Bill Austin, the Pittsburgh coach. He said, "We've got a kicker, and he's doing all right." The fellow he had was Bill Shockley. I said, "I'm better than Shockley, Coach"—I was up for this one, pushing and driving—"just take a look at me and see. Listen, I'll pay my own way. All I ask is you take a look."
"All right," he said, "come on up. But I'm not promising anything."
I beat out Shockley just as I had promised and was the Pittsburgh kicker for the rest of the 1968 season—13 games. We lost the first six. I kicked two field goals to beat Philadelphia 6-3, but that didn't satisfy anybody, because by that time we were in a hopeless position, and the victory just about cost the Steelers a shot at O. J. Simpson in the draft.