Don Shula was once courted by the USFL, Donald Trump

Mike Florio
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

Hall of Fame head coach Don Shula’s first season with Dan Marino could have been Shula’s last season with the Dolphins.

Shula’s passing this week at the age of 90 has reminded many that President Donald Trump once tried to hire Shula to coach the USFL’s New Jersey Generals, a team that featured running back Herschel Walker.

Jeff Pearlman recently tweeted the video of a news story on the issue, including Trump being interviewed by CBS and Shula speaking about the situation to reporters. In 2017, Dave George of the Palm Beach Post looked back at the courtship of Shula.

It happened in 1983. It was a contract year for Shula, and he’d yet to be signed to a new deal. Trump approached Shula about jumping to the USFL in 1984. Shula listened, and negotiations ensued.

Trump claimed that the deal broke down because Shula wanted an apartment in Trump Tower. Shula explained that it was far more complicated than that.

“It really has developed into a huge distraction,” Shula said the day after Trump’s CBS appearance, ending the talks.

“Don is a good man,” Trump said at the time. “An excellent guy, really. He just called me to say he was no longer interested, but I could not have done the deal. I could not have given him an apartment in Trump Tower. . . . Money is one thing. Gold is another. I wasn’t very enthusiastic over the past few days. There was no way I could part with the apartment. I guess he was a little upset that the apartment thing came out. You know, he was interested.”

“When I was approached, I showed interest in the offer and in what they had to say,” Shula said at the time. “The only way I could make an intelligent decision was to get all the facts, which is all that I ever attempted to do without any commitment at all.”

Obviously, Shula stayed with the Dolphins, for more than another decade. But it would have been fascinating to see how Donald and Don would have gotten along, and what the over/under would have been on the relationship imploding.

Don Shula was once courted by the USFL, Donald Trump originally appeared on Pro Football Talk

What to Read Next