- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
While I was in Dallas I got a call from Jackson State asking me to come back to the campus—the same campus I had been kicked off—to be honored. The frog had become a prince. I never got my degree, but I have pictures of me shaking hands with the governor.
I was still clean when I went to Miami's training camp. I remember how impressed I was seeing the big names of the Dolphins in the locker room—Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris and Larry Little. Little had gold all over him, and those two Super Bowl rings, and I thought, "Damn, wait'll I get me one of those suckers."
I tried coke for the first time that week, right there in a room at Biscayne College in North Miami. Lloyd Mumphord brought some to the room. Mumphord had played for Texas Southern in the same league I'd been in at Jackson, and he was a regular defensive back for the Dolphins. We divided it up, and he and I tooted it through a straw. It seemed natural enough. I heard a lot of the guys were doing it, and if they were doing it, why shouldn't I? The only regret I had was that it burned my nose. But I got a terrific tingling sensation, and then a sudden and powerful need to go to the bathroom. I remember sitting there and thinking, "Dang, this is the best s——I ever had."
The next week I tried it again, a little heavier. This time I really felt it—wiinnnnnngggg, opening up my nostrils and going right to my toes and back up again. From then on, I was available whenever it was available. By the time the season started, I was snorting at least once a week.
I never paid for it. Not then. I'd guess half the players on the Dolphins—whites as well as blacks—were using it in small amounts, as "recreational" doses, you could say.
After a while I realized I would have to find it on my own occasionally, so Mumphord put me on to a Cuban dealer named Juan, and he was my principal source. Juan had a place in Little Havana. I'd call and he'd say, "Come on by," and I'd go get it. I only had to pay $40 a gram at that point. The players always got it cheap, if they paid at all, which should tell you something. I didn't give it much thought one way or another. It was fun. It was "sociable." I liked it. I wanted it.
And my want grew just like a cancer. I went up to two grams and then to what people called "eighths"—three and a half grams. An eighth is a "big snorter." Later on, tragically for me, I learned it's also a "small baser" or freebaser. You really can't freebase with less than an eighth. The going rate for that now is around $325. But I didn't know what freebasing was then. That piece of carnal knowledge came much later.
By 1976, my third season at Miami, I was riding the crest—a starter at defensive tackle, with a lot of good publicity. My coke use was expanding, too. I had about 12 sources; some I paid, some I didn't have to. You get lulled into believing the bargain rates will last forever. And it was still a well-hidden exercise. I didn't think so at the time, but the best thing we had going for us at Miami was Don Shula. He's smart, and he's been around players too long not to see things. Everybody always had to be on their toes. That kept the lid on. Mercury Morris said Shula asked him once if he was on anything. Merc said no.
I didn't use it before games at Miami, and I don't think many Dolphins did. We sure as hell didn't use it in the locker room. If you're only snorting, you can do without coke before a game. It's after a game that you want it bad. The only real chances we took at Miami were on plane rides back from road games. The coaches always sat up front, and we'd be in the back where it was dark, with our little brown bottles that held about a gram, and we'd sit and sniff right out of the bottle. Or if we were being extra cautious, we'd slip into the bathroom and sniff it there. It's almost impossible to tell when you're doing that little, especially under circumstances where you're supposed to look strung out.
A Dolphin assistant coach would come back and see me dead in my seat, all sprawled out, and say to me, "You tired, Don?"