The announcement that Don Shula has agreed to a new contract with Miami has given the Dolphins an emotional lift for their opening game against the Bills today in Buffalo.
Because of widespread speculation that he would consider offers to coach elsewhere after this final season of a five-year contract, Shula would have taken on the image of a lame-duck coach.
The fact is that he has put consideratble effort in trying to regenerate the franchise. Twenty-three players on the 45-man squad have three or fewer years of experience and 20 of those are from the Dolphins' last three drafts.
Shula's contract as coach and vice president now is believed to be one of the best in the National Football League, remembering that he previously owned stock in the franchise, which he sold back to owner Joe Robbie in 1976. That was before the value of the franchise was dramatically increased as the NFL signed a new television contract with the three networks.
Despite a 7-9 record last season, the Bills anticipate a sellout crowd of of 80,020 today for their game against the Dolphins. Another big turnout is expected next week when the New York Jets visit Rich Stadium, because O.J. Simpson will be honored.
The Los Angeles Rams reportedly are considering a suit against linebacker Bob Brudzinski because, after reporting to training camp, he departed while under contract.
They are being referred to as the "New Frontier Rams" now that owner Georgia Rosenbloom has married again, to Dominic Frontiere.
If Jack Cooke is undecided about which wines he wants served to guests in RFK Stadium, he can take a tip from the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are circulating a list of wide receiver Lynn Swann's favorite vintages -- (reds) Chateau Margaux 1952, Chateau Lafite -- Rothschild 1961; (champagne) Dom Perignon 1969, Krug 1969; (whites) Puligny Montrachet 1977, Marquis deLagiche 1976.
The tipsheet, "SCORE," says the Redskins will beat the Cowboys by 7 points Monday night, explaining, "It's the Cowboys' first official game in many years without Rogar Staubach. Forget all the hype you've heard lately about the Dallas 'system.' That will go on without Roger.
"Tommy Landry never won a thing until Roger became the regular QB. Even then, with the greatest athlete of the era at QB, Tommy only managed to win two Super Bowis . . . Tony (Fumbles) Dorsett will help Redskins by coughing up the ball a couple times. Playing on grass big edge for the Redskins. It's not Danny White but Joe Theismann who will look like Roger as he sparks Redskins, 24-17."
Linebacker Thomas (Hollywood) Henderson has been renicknamed "Holiday" by San Francisco 49er fans because he missed 25 practices for assorted reasons, some of them injuries and illnesses.
The Redskin game Nov. 23 game in Dallas is the earliest cowboy sellout in history.
Today is the day that club cowners will begin judging the staffs that passed up Charles (Too Small and Too Slow) White, Heisman Trophy winner, in the draft and enabled Clevelnd to select him. And by sunset, today's losers will be wondering again if John Madden can be lured back to coaching or whether Hank Stram and George Allen belong back on the field rather than at television microphones.