Sports and asterisk don’t go together |

Sports and asterisk don’t go together

Ah, the asterisk *.So harmless and unassuming on your computer keyboard … the little symbol really doesn’t want any trouble. It’s not like dollar sign $ and exclamation point !, who strut around all day bumping into other symbols, just looking for a fight.

Asterisk just meekly raises its hand and says, “Um, excuse me, but may I just interject a small note at this time? I don’t want to make a scene, so I’ll tell you at the bottom of the page.”

But once the world of sports gets a hold of asterisk, look out. Hit that shift key, then the 8, and controversy can’t be far behind.

Well let’s get right to it.

Don Shula – who coached the 1972 Miami Dolphins to the only unbeaten season in NFL history – says that the Patriots should get an asterisk if they finish 19-0 this season.

“The Spygate thing has diminished what they’ve accomplished,” Shula told the New York Daily News. “You would hate to have that attached to your accomplishments. They’ve got it. Belichick was fined $500,000, the team was fined $250,00 and they lost a first-round draft choice. That tells you the seriousness or significance of what they found.

“I guess you got the same thing as putting an asterisk by Barry Bonds’ home run record,” Shula said. “I guess it will be noted that the Patriots were fined and a No. 1 draft choice was taken away during that year of accomplishment. The sad thing is Tom Brady looks so good, it doesn’t look like he needs any help.”

Two things here: Shula, of course, is still bitter about the snow plow game.

For those not around then, it was on December 12, 1982, in a driving snowstorm at Foxboro Stadium, that groundsperson Mark Henderson drove a John Deere tractor onto the field to clear a spot for the Patriots to kick a game-winning field goal against the Dolphins. The following year, the NFL banned the use of snow plows on the field during a game.

Secondly, there are those who say that it’s the ’72 Dolphins who deserve the asterisk.

“The schedule that Shula’s 1972 Dolphins had is pretty revealing about how great that team might not have been,” says the sports blog Out of Left Field. “In the regular season, it didn’t beat a single playoff team. It beat only one team which finished above .500, the Kansas City Chiefs, and that came in Week 1. After that season, Kansas City wouldn’t finish in the black again until 1986.”

Actually the Dolphins beat two above-.500 teams in the regular season. The point, however, is well taken, even though it’s hard to compare eras.

And if you are reading this on Sunday or sometime there afterward, the Patriots may already have their first loss. If so, please assign this column an asterisk.

– Rick Chandler is the associate editor of Contact him at

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