CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Mercury Morris may drink a glass of champagne honoring the 1972 Miami Dolphins every year the last undefeated team loses, but not everybody associated with that team apparently shares in the tradition.
If it is a tradition at all.
"That’s his way of celebrating," Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. "But I don’t think everybody else does. I know it isn’t [done] in the Shula household."
Shula is the son of legendary coach Don Shula, who guided the '72 Dolphins to the only perfect season (17-0) in NFL history.
Mike Shula was 7 when Miami wrapped up that season with a 14-7 victory over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.
Now he’s chasing perfection with the Panthers, who are 13-0 heading into Sunday’s game against the New York Giants.
Shula’s father is on record saying he’s cheering for the Panthers to go 19-0, which would mean a victory in Super Bowl 50.
Morris recently said that even if the Panthers go undefeated, the '72 Dolphins will be remembered as the greatest team in NFL history. The former Miami running back is one that has been documented as having done the champagne toast.
"I really think that is over. ... I don’t know if the word is overrated," Shula said. "I’m sure that probably happens, but it’s never happened in the Shula household."
Shula’s dad debunked the champagne story during the 2011 season.
"The champagne story is ridiculous," the Hall of Fame coach said that year. "People really do think that we’re a bunch of angry old men and we gather and just root for that last undefeated team to get beat and when they do we pop the champagne.
"I think the thing that happened is, one year, the last undefeated team got beat and Nick Buoniconti and Dick Anderson lived next to each other in Coral Gables (Fla.), and they went out in their driveway and opened a bottle of champagne and popped it and toasted to each other. And they were too cheap to invite the rest of us to their party."
Mike Shula, 50, doesn’t have many memories of the '72 season, as one might expect from somebody his age at the time.
"I remember the brand new transistor radio my mom got me on game day of the Super Bowl," Shula said. "It was a red one. It was really cool to listen to the game on the radio while I was actually watching.
"Other than that, I can remember being up in the stands during the Orange Bowl games and seeing the white hankies."
Shula’s best memory of the Super Bowl loss to Dallas the previous season in New Orleans had nothing to do with football.
"I was in the upper deck and it was miserable" Shula said. "I remember ordering a hot dog, and it was ice cold. An ice cold hot dog."
Shula gets asked about his memories from '72 on a weekly basis. He understands why, and knows the questions will continue the more Carolina wins.
"It’s a great story, I guess, because it’s within the family," Shula said. "Just like anything else, I’ve been taught, starting with [dad], you’ve got to continue to lock in. Each week is totally different."