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The Swifts say the majority of passers-by signify their support (V-for-victory signs, clenched-fist salutes), but Julie admits there has been an occasional antagonist. One afternoon a gray-haired lady in a beat-up station wagon shook her fist as she passed and shouted, "Get back to work, you bums!"
Langer, on the other hand, says that the strike has no support from the people he encounters and Scott says," We're alienating a ton of fans. When I was home they'd see how I live, which is pretty damn good, and they'd say, 'Are you going to picket?' "
Otherwise, willingness to be a scab appears to be a small price to pay for those dreamers who would be Dolphins. Player Personnel Director Bobby Beathard processes daily the claims of potential All-Stars who last played football in high school in 1965, "but have been working out ever since," and those of prison inmates looking for an early way out of the slammer.
Because all NFL clubs are desperate for bodies, Beathard dutifully screens every likely candidate. Some of them have been recommended by their wives, who attest that "My husband never misses a game on television, and just loves the Dolphins. Please give him a tryout." One the Dolphins did bring to camp was an undrafted rookie quarterback from Dayton named Kenny Polke. Polke impressed Shula with his strong arm and passing accuracy. "Surprising," Shula says, admitting that all he had in mind originally was "somebody who could hand the ball off."
Polke's deep brown eyes moisten as he says he thinks now he "can play this game—somewhere," but that he "knows" he won't be a Dolphin once Bob Griese and Don Strock show up ( Earl Morrall is already in camp). It's just as well, he says, because every day he gets more homesick, and it didn't help when he got a Dear John letter.
Shula, meanwhile, maintains his equanimity, trying, he says, "to understand all the issues" while keeping intact a facsimile of his great team. At his press conferences—marked contrasts to the embroiled, slightly broiled Swifts'—he is cool and dry in a freshly laundered shirt, shaved and (for him) remarkably dispassionate. Historically, Shula has been about as close to being a management man as macaroni and cheese is to quiche Lorraine, but he is resentful of certain strike issues. He feels the strike has come at a time when the owners' latitude to deal has already been considerably limited by their fiscal war with the WFL (Dolphin salaries have doubled over last year, to almost $3 million), and because he refuses "to be told how to coach" by players. "We didn't get where we are by coddling ourselves," Shula says.
As a final irony, the strike has performed a minor miracle of public relations in making a sympathetic figure out of Owner Joe Robbie, who has often been at the vortex of controversy in Miami. Like good steel, he seems to thrive in the hottest ovens, however, and he had just come off a remarkable string of contract successes—and concessions—after the Csonka-Kiick-Warfield defection.
But an old adversary was intent on rectifying that development last week. Ellis Rubin, the Miami Beach attorney and longtime management baiter (he was a successful petitioner against the television blackout of home games), is now threatening suit if Robbie attempts to start the season with rookies and free agents or anything short of the "real Dolphins."
Some alligators never quit.