Sons of famous fathers who get into the same business, especially if it's a highly visible one like pro football, usually start their race for recognition with at least one good-size anvil in each pocket. You can generally count on the fingers of one hand those who make it big Anyway, by now you must have read that owner Norman Braman of the Philadelphia Eagles, who jettisoned head coach Marion Campbell with one game left in the National Football League season, is interested in giving the job to 26-year-old David Shula.
David, while not exactly unknown as the receivers-quarterback coach of the AFC East champion Miami Dolphins, is probably more recognizable as the son of the team's head man, Don Shula. For four years now they have worked in close harmony, a tough assignment under any circumstances, but remarkable when you consider the pressure on both men.
If you are familiar with Don Shula at all, you know the one thing he won't tolerate is a lack of improvement at any level in his ball club from year to year. The reason his son has stayed on, after a one-month temporary assignment to replace Wally English in 1982, is that the players who have been assigned to him have continually gotten better. Some of their names should be vaguely familiar, such as quarterback Dan Marino and wide receivers Mark Duper and Mark Clayton -- and there have been others as we ll.
David, who starred as a wide receiver at Dartmouth College and played one year with the Baltimore Colts, had moved on to study law when his father beckoned.
Later Don Shula would tell reporters: ``Sure, I was taking a chance, because if David hadn't adjusted to the Miami job it could have ruined him. I think he probably knew this, too.''
There are a lot of arguments for not giving this kind of plum to a 26-year-old, the biggest probably being a lack of experience.
Don Shula was 33 in 1963 when he replaced Weeb Ewbank as coach of the Baltimore Colts and led them to an 8-6 record in his first season. Son David, of course, would be starting out even seven years younger than his dad did. But if a man has what it takes, what's the difference? In any event, whether David gets the Philadelphia job or not, it's probably only a matter of time before some NFL organization grabs him as its field boss.