Little, who played college ball at Bethune-Cookman, was with San Diego before he came to the Dolphins in 1969 for Defensive Back Mack Lamb.
"I talked to Sid Gillman two or three times about him," says Joe Thomas, Miami's director of player personnel. "I knew he wanted Lamb, but he offered me three or four different players and every time I said, 'Sid, I want Little.' Finally, I told him not to call me unless he would say just one word. Little. And he did."
Another deal made by Thomas that helped change the Dolphins from a 3-10-1 team in 1969 to 10-4 in 1970 and a strong contender again in 1971 was the trade for Warfield, who had played for Cleveland throughout his pro career. The Browns were desperate for a first draft choice early enough in the draw to assure them a quality quarterback. Thomas had a quarterback—Griese—and a high draft choice.
"I was thinking in terms of Lance Alworth or a prime receiver like him," Thomas says. "I had talked to Art Modell, but we hadn't come close to a deal. One day he called me and when he said ' Paul Warfield' I took the phone away from my ear and couldn't talk for a minute. Then I made the deal and went home."
The trade has been as good as Thomas thought it would be; Warfield added a very important dimension to the Dolphin attack with his deep receptions and also, surprisingly—he is only 180 pounds and six feet tall—with his blocking.
"He's the only man I ever saw putting on moves when he's just walking," Mira once said.
"I guess he got that from training camp," Warfield says, smiling. "Sometimes when I'm walking along I think about the kind of moves I'm going to make, and I try them unconsciously."
Warfield was not exactly enchanted when he learned he had been traded to Miami, "but it has worked out very well for me," he says now. "This surface required some adjustments. When I make a sideline cut, which is the toughest pattern to run, I like to cut at a very sharp angle, but I've been rounding the cut a little here. I'll have to work on it more."
But more than individual players or any trades, it is Shula who has orchestrated the success of the Dolphins. Last week Marv Fleming, the big tight end who played most of his pro career with the Green Bay Packers during their years of glory, extended to his coach the ultimate compliment of an ex-Packer. "He's just like Vince Lombardi," he said. "You pay the price, but you get what you pay for." In Miami Sunday everybody but the Steelers got what he paid for.