Deal Was Verbally Agreed To But Don Shula Got Cold Feet

Published on February 5th, 2024 5:55 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

A trade that was not. Don Shula was tired of missing the playoffs.

The Miami Dolphins had just finished 8-8 and had missed the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

Shula thought that a big change was needed, and that involved moving the team's superstar quarterback, Dan Marino.

Marino was just 28 years of age at the time - still in his absolute prime, with at least a decade of play ahead of him.

The Dolphins, however, were treading water, and Shula wanted a change.


The Los Angeles Raiders also finished 8-8 in 1989.

The team was a good one, anchored by Bo Jackson, Howie Long and others.

The team seemingly just needed a top QB to put them over the top.

So, Shula rang up the owner of the Raiders, Al Davis, to talk about a potential trade for Marino.


The two men went back and forth and eventually hammered out a framework for a deal that would send Marino to Los Angeles.

Al Davis must have been doing flips in his office - it's not every day that a future Hall of Fame quarterback falls into your lap.

This feeling, however, wouldn't last.

Shula called back and said that he needed more for Marino.

Davis was obviously a bit miffed at this but acquiesced - after all, he didn't want to lose out on Dan Marino!

A second deal was reached between the two men.

A short time later, Shula came back to Davis AGAIN and said that he needed more for Marino.

This time, Davis decided that he couldn't pay anymore and refused.


Marino would stay with the Dolphins and the team quickly turned the corner, finishing 12-4 in 1990.

Marino would spend another ten years with the team, retiring after the 1999 season.

There would be no Super Bowls for Marino, however, which ultimately begs the question - would the franchise have been better off trading Marino away in 1989?

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