Miami Dolphins' punter Reggie Roby led the NFL in net average at 38.1 yards, but Coach Don Shula always thinks he can do better.
Roby: "Every time I come off the field, he'll say something to me, and it's always negative--even on good kicks. If I had a chance to kick it 70 yards and I kick it 60, he'll yell at me. He'll tell me, 'You almost let this guy or that guy block it.'
"He's just trying to keep me on my toes. He just wants me to be the best punter I can be."
Last weekend against Seattle, Shula departed from character after Roby saved a bad snap and then stepped between a pair of rushers to get off a 45-yard kick.
"He told me, 'Nice job,' when I came off the field," Roby said.
Shula soon reverted to character.
"During the films on Monday," Roby said, "he told me I shouldn't have bobbled the ball and should have gotten the kick off."
Anyone notice that the opposing quarterbacks in Miami today, Dan Marino and Mark Malone, both got their chance as starters as replacements for David Woodley?
In 1983, when Miami ranked last in the NFL in passing, Woodley was replaced by the rookie Marino in the fifth game. This season, Woodley was the starter for Pittsburgh until he suffered a concussion in the sixth game against Miami and was replaced by Malone.
Note: Miami won the game, 31-7, the worst loss ever for Pittsburgh at Three Rivers Stadium. However, the Steelers were minus wide receiver Louis Lipps and tight end Bennie Cunningham, both of whom have returned.
Of today's rematch, Pittsburgh linebacker Robin Cole said, "I'm glad the game's at Miami. They already came to our place and stuffed us. It's time for us to go down there and shut their people up."
Add Lipps: He also returns punts for the Steelers and has signaled for only two fair catches, but Reggie Roby says: "I want to hang it up there so that if he does catch it, he won't want to catch another one."
How high can Roby kick?
Writes Terry Price of the Hartford Courant: "How high? Well, how does the roof of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome grab you? Roby hit it once in a preseason game. It's 186 feet high.
"And the New Orleans Superdome. Roby hit the scoreboard that hangs down from the roof there three times in pregame warmups. It's about 200 feet above the playing surface."
Add Punters: In 1972, the only other year Miami and Pittsburgh met for the AFC title, it was Miami punter Larry Seiple who made the big play.
Miami was trailing, 7-0, and was faced with a fourth-and-six at the Pittsburgh 49 in the second quarter. Seiple, instead of punting, took off on a 37-yard run, setting up Miami's first score. The Dolphins won, 21-17, and went on to complete a 17-0 season with a 14-7 win over Washington in the Super Bowl.
Veteran Miami guard Ed Newman, on the rivalry with Pittsburgh: "The Dolphins were the standard of excellence in the early '70s, and by '73 that standard was being challenged by the Steelers. I think in many respects, they exceeded what the Dolphins had done.
"More personally, several times I encountered Joe Greene. I had tremendous respect for him. Almost awe. No, not almost. I was in awe of some of their personnel--Greene, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham. they were just loaded with talent.
"A lot of years have gone by, but they're still very tough competitors. it's a reflection of the personality of their coach."
Basketball analyst Al McGuire, on the longevity of retired DePaul Coach Ray Meyer: "When James Naismith put up the peach basket, Ray Meyer was holding the ladder."