SI Vault
John Underwood
October 12, 1981
Miami Coach Don Shula is up to old tricks, molding a bunch of unknowns into the only unbeaten team in the AFC
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October 12, 1981

New Names But Still No Names

Miami Coach Don Shula is up to old tricks, molding a bunch of unknowns into the only unbeaten team in the AFC

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The difference is that back in the early '70s everybody knew who Griese was, and who Larry Csonka was, and who most of the other guys on the offense were; it was the Dolphins on defense nobody knew. Now it's the No-Name Offense, and what an offense it will surely be, if it can just stop throwing rods and blowing head gaskets. It's either going to make a new man of Shula, who, says Woodley, is "really having fun with it," or a nervous wreck of him.

Actually, it all started early last year, about the time Griese was sidelined by a shoulder injury that ultimately led to his retirement and rookie Woodley took over. Woodley's start was, to put it kindly, an inauspicious one. Five straight quarters without a point. But for "the best pure athlete I've ever had at quarterback," Shula was willing to be patient. Even then he began to restructure his offense to accommodate Woodley's mobility and running skills.

Woodley slipped into the hot seat as if he had an ice bag for a rear end. Shula always talks about Woodley's "exceptional intelligence"—the "third ingredient" that sets him apart, along with his "exceptional" mobility and what Assistant Head Coach Bill Arnsparger calls "the kind of throwing arm you see in camp once in 10 years"—but it's his unflappable demeanor that's most impressive. His teammates used to call him "Woodstock" for the disheveled appearance he favored—frazzled hair, faded jeans—and kidded him about his "Salvation Army wardrobe." The best he ever looked, they say, was when he borrowed Safety Mike Kozlowski's clothes for the team banquet held this past May. In truth, Woodley is erect, handsome and blue-eyed, but his natural reticence adds to his image of being kind of disconnected. And, as a conversationalist, you might call him phlegmatic.

Q.: "I understand you bought a new house, David. Where is it?"

A.: "In Broward County."

Q.: "Could you be just a little more specific?"

A.: "Yeah, well, it's north of here. It's not far."

Woodley got married last June. He might be the only man alive who would say his marriage didn't change anything. He says he still just mostly "hangs around." He watches television.

Q.: "Is that all you do?"

A.: "I read."

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