Miami Coach Don Shula today attributed quarterback Dan Marino's dizziness before practice Thursday to the drug Feldene, which Marino takes infrequently to lessen swelling in his left knee.
"Dan took an anti-inflammation pill and hadn't eaten any breakfast and it made him a little light-headed," Shula said in a 50-minute press conference at a hotel here."But Dan took part in our entire practice, threw well on individual routes and he stayed out afterwards to throw some more.
"I wasn't even aware that there was anything wrong until reporters asked me about it after practice."
Feldene is a nonsteroidal, anti-inflammation drug.
Shula said Marino, expected to be the central figure against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XIX at Stanford Stadium Sunday, "spent a couple hours with me (Thursday night) for a TV show we do in Miami and was fine. There doesn't seem to be any problems with Dan, and he's looking forward to the game."
The Dolphins have other problems: tight end Dan Johnson complained of stomach pain this morning and was taken to an Oakland medical lab for tests. It had been feared he was suffering from appendicitis, but blood tests proved inconclusive, team physician Charles Virgin said tonight. Johnson's status for Sunday's game will not be decided until Saturday night.
Virgin said Johnson might have been suffering from "regional irritation in the stomach that may have been the residual from the severe gastrointestinal disorder" that kept Johnson out for the playoff game with Seattle and caused him to lose 25 pounds.
Johnson, who caught 34 passes this season, is a starter. But the Dolphins generally rotate him with Bruce Hardy and Joe Rose, so they probably could get by without him. He was the only player missing from a 90-minute workout today.
San Francisco Coach Bill Walsh said that hamstring injuries had limited the practice time of wide receivers Dwight Clark, Freddie Solomon and Renaldo Nehemiah and tight end Russ Francis, and said, "It's getting to be a little bit haunting."
Standing near the shiny, silver Super Bowl XIX trophy, Walsh said, "This mounting problem of muscle injuries is concerning us. (But) I think they'll all be ready for the game."
Earlier this week, Shula had said that any 49ers deliberately hitting either of Miami's tiny receivers, Mark Duper or Mark Clayton, "outside the rules of the game . . . should be thrown out of the game."
Today, he said that he will not talk to referee Pat Haggerty and his crew about it. (Of course, by raising this subject earlier, Shula already has, in effect, made game officials take note.)
"It's been my experience over the years," he said, "that any time I talk to officials before the game, with a list of things for them to look for, invariably they call everything on us. If I did that, they would probably penalize one of our defensive backs for roughing up Dwight Clark."
Marino has thrown 55 touchdown passes this season, and Walsh said admiringly, "We're looking for a bad game (by Marino) in the films and we can't find it . . . We have to face up to the fact that the man is about a perfection in football."
Shula has been through five previous Super Bowl weeks and today he was at his flippant best with the media. He said that he used the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to travel across the Bay from the Dolphins' headquarters in Oakland to this morning's press conference.
"Some coaches ride in limousines; some go on BART," he deadpanned. "Just continuing my blue-collar image."
With a victory Sunday, he would tie Dallas Coach Tom Landry for second place on the league's all-time victory list with 234, trailing only George Halas (325). The Dolphins are three-point underdogs Sunday.
"I took a heavily favored Baltimore team down to Miami against the Jets," said Shula, whose Colts lost that game, 16-7, in Super Bowl III. "I screwed it up and made the Jets famous."
If Shula was flippant, then Walsh was cryptic. "I think there will be some trick plays in the game," he said. "No question there will be."
But moments later, he added, "Special plays can get you into trouble in a game like this; they can blow up in your face."