For 34 years, he was the first phone call. He was called to be bodyguard for the Miami Dolphins coaches or to be a facilitator through red tape. He was the investigator of potential draft picks, the point man if a stranger appeared at practice or the first man up if a player needed legal help.
Any legal help.
“I married four players and (coach) Jimmy Johnson,” Stu Weinstein said.
For 35 years until retiring in 2018, Weinstein was head of the Dolphins security staff — he was the staff, really, meaning from the time Don Shula offered him the job after the 1985 season he wasn’t just the man behind the curtains. He often guarded the curtains.
He stood beside Shula on the sideline after the FBI warned him of a death threat (wondering about his life), accompanied a player into a crack house to get the player’s mom (no names, please) and tracked down impostors pretending to be Mark Higgs, Jason Taylor or Dan Marino.
“I confronted the Marino impostor at a doughnut store in North Miami Beach,” Weinstein said. “He was 5-8 and heavy. I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ This was the age before the internet, and it was Dan’s rookie year, so some people weren’t sure what he looked like.”
When Weinstein started, only four other teams had security officials. The age of innocence was dying. Weinstein already had worked part-time with NFL security for 11 years, and the Dolphins saw an increasing need for his role.
One of Weinstein’s introductory cases to the Dolphins was when a man named Matthew Micelli came to see Shula with a luggage full of money. He said he was buying the Dolphins. Weinstein and his NFL security boss, Ed DuBois, were called out. They searched the man and found a knife. Shula said he’d meet with him if the Weinstein and DuBois were present. They met, talked and nothing happened. Weinstein followed him that night. Nothing.
“A month later I got a call he’d killed someone,” Weinstein said.
He wrote about it all in a book called, “The Grass Isn’t Always Greener.” He wrote it for himself for now. Just to put it down. Just to tell all the good stories without telling all the names involved.
Weinstein’s favorite story involved accompanying Shula out of the Orange Bowl locker room after a game to meet “Miami Vice” actor Don Johnson. The two famed Miamians traded greetings, and Johnson said the coach did a great job.
“You’re the ones who do a great job,” Shula said.
Johnson then invited Shula, “to one of our shoots.” As they walked back to the locker room, Shula asked Weinstein who, “he was gonna shoot.” The blinders-on coach thought Johnson worked for Miami law enforcement. He’d never heard of the show.
As the years passed, Weinstein helped different coaches with different things. He drove coach Tony Sparano to appointments. He jogged with Shula and Johnson. He also jogged with Mike Westhoff as the Dolphins special-teams assistant was undergoing chemotherapy treatments for cancer.
“He’d stop, throw up, jog a little, throw up again and then go back to work,” Weinstein said. “He’s as tough as they come.”
Through the years, Weinstein became a confidant of sorts for the coaches. It was at a team party at Johnson’s Tavernier home the coach asked to meet him upstairs. His long-time girlfriend, Rhonda Rookmaaker and a few friends were there. Weinstein, as a notary, was asked to marry them.
“Pretty simple ceremony,” he said.
His job was all-inclusive. When defensive tackle Alfred Oglesby said he’d missed a practice after being kidnapped, Weinstein got him to admit he’d been out partying. When rookie Tim Bowens was upset and left camp after teammates took his equipment and kept demanding he sing for them, Weinstein went with agent Drew Rosenhaus to talk with him about it being a silly rookie initiation.
NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue called Weinstein over before the first game after Shula tore his Achilles tendon in 1994. Tagliabue didn’t want Shula to be on the sideline in a golf cart. Too dangerous. He asked Weinstein to tell him.
“Why don’t you tell him?’ Weinstein diplomatically asked.
Tagliabue tried. Shula coached from the golf cart.
Day-to-day was often the regular work of security. He helped secure passports for overseas trips and did 850 background searches of prospective draft picks and free agents one offseason. But there was always the odd phone call. Once, when the Dolphins went to Indianapolis in the 1990s, defensive coordinator George Hill said a man called offering to sell him back some championship rings from his Ohio State days.
Weinstein called Indiana police. A sting was set up. A camera was put in the hotel’s television. Weinstein acted as a ring expert to authenticate the rings. When the man offered them for $10,000, he was arrested. The next day, the Dolphins beat the Colts. All in a weekend’s work.
In 2016, Weinstein went through seven rounds of chemotherapy, turned 70 and planned to retire. The Dolphins made the playoffs that year. It’s not just players and coaches who dream of Super Bowls. Whole organizations do — and they’re built on men and women like Weinstein.
“I’m thinking, ‘Shoot, we’re going to win the Super Bowl the next year and I’m not a part of it,’ ” he said.
Weinstein was a one-year starter at Miami Norland High, the school closest to Hard Rock Stadium. He worked in his own way all those years to help the Dolphins win a Super Bowl. It didn’t happen. Before the 2018 season, he said it was time.
He’s still helping former players through the Dolphins’ alumni group just as he always did. Need help updating a license? Want a background check on a potential business partner? No problem. Then he’ll often text them, just as he once said to Shula, Johnson, Sparano and any other Dolphin for 34 years:
“I’m always here for you.”
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