The sideshows may overshadow the main event Sunday when the M
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The sideshows may overshadow the main event Sunday when the Miami Dolphins play the Philadelphia Eagles.
First, there will be Miami’s Don Shula trying to become the winningest pro coach of all time. Then, four former Eagles are in town for the first time since leaving to sign with the Dolphins. And for good measure there will be the Philadelphia debut of defensive tackle William ″Refrigerator″ Perry.
Almost forgotten is the effort by the Dolphins (6-2) to stay close to the Buffalo Bills (7-1) in the AFC East, and the bid by the Eagles (4-4) to snap a four-game losing streak and remain in contention in the NFC East.
″It’s going to be an extravaganza or something,″ Eagles coach Rich Kotite said. ″I think you have to take the sideshow out of your mind. It just happens that we have four players who have been here over there.″
As for Shula’s record attempt, Kotite said, ″I hope I can prolong it for one more week.″
Like Kotite, Shula said he is focused on winning the game, especially after being upset last week by the New York Jets and falling out of a first-place tie with the Bills. He needs one victory to reach 325 to break a tie with former Chicago Bears coach George Halas. Shula is in his 31st season. Halas coached 40 years.
The four Eagles coming home after their free-agency flight are tight end Keith Jackson, running back Keith Byars, offensive tackle Ron Heller and defensive tackle Mike Golic.
″The fans at the Vet are pretty hard on anybody, their own players, so you never know what’s going to happen,″ Jackson said. ″Who they felt was at fault. We’ll see what happens. ...
″It’s weird ... thinking of playing with guys you grew up with and not only became a player with but became a man with because of the difficulties we had in Philadelphia together and how we hung together. ... Man, I finally got to play those guys. The day has arrived.″
Byars was the only one who still appeared embittered.
″I just think Richie Kotite is still trying to come to terms with being a head coach after being an assistant for so long,″ he said. ″I know this is his third year, but I still don’t know if he’s quite grasped what being a head coach is all about.″
Heller said returning to Philadelphia will be tough.
″I like the Philadelphia Eagles,″ he said. ″I like the players ... the coaches. I’ve got a positive feeling. So it’s going to be tough to be as emotional and as physical as you need to play. I don’t want to play a bad game so the fans can boo and say they should of gotten rid of him anyway.″
Golic, who was injured in training camp, missed the last three games with a virus.
″I’ve never been in the position before where I played with a bunch of guys for so long and leaving and coming back to play against them,″ he said. ″It’s kind of wild. I know a lot of their line calls. It will be kind of a chess match. They’ll make some dummy calls to confuse me.″
Eagles linebacker Seth Joyner said everybody has been looking forward to playing against the four.
″We’re all friends, but business is business ... and I’ll be trying to take their heads off and they’ll be trying to take mine off,″ he said. ″When the game is over we’ll still be friends.″
Perry, listed at 335 pounds, was claimed Wednesday after being waived by the Chicago Bears. Kotite hopes he will help bolster the defense against the run. The Eagles in eight games have allowed more yards rushing than the 1990 and ’91 team did in entire seasons.