When Don Shula was winning championships with the Miami Dolphins at the Orange Bowl two decades ago and his teen-age son, Dave, was charting plays on the sideline, selling season tickets was considered state-of-the-art marketing.
The concepts of club seats and premium seat licenses (PSLs) hadn't even been invented.
That's all changed now in this era when money is what drives the game.
The Shulas have found out the impact of selling these new kind of tickets. It helped drive them both out of the game.
When Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga decided it was time for Don Shula to retire last January, one of the considerations was that the Dolphins' 10-year leases for club seats were expiring. The excitement that the hiring of Jimmy Johnson brought to the team was considered essential to get renewals.
When Bengals owner Mike Brown decided to fire Don's son, Dave, on Monday, Brown admitted one of the factors was that he has to sell 50,000 PSLs, plus an unspecified number of club seats and luxury boxes, by April 30 for his new stadium deal to kick in.
With the Bengals at 1-6, he couldn't afford to give Shula a chance to turn it around.
"Whether it should be, whether it is entirely fair to Dave or not, it's something that weighs on my mind," Brown said.
He added, "Our stadium project is a critical thing to the future of the Bengals. It has to succeed if we're to make it a go here in Cincinnati, and we have undercut our public support here by the way we have not so much played, but failed to win."
It didn't help that Shula, who departed with a 19-52 record, lost 50 games faster than any other coach.
But if it hadn't been for the stadium deal, Brown might have waited until the end of the year to make a move. The Bengals had fired a coach in midseason only once in their history.
This also puts pressure on Bruce Coslet, the interim coach and former offensive coordinator who makes his debut as Bengals coach Sunday against Jacksonville and comes to Baltimore Nov. 3.
The Bengals need some victories to help convince skeptical fans that they should shell out money for PSLs.
If Coslet doesn't get those victories, Brown may have to bring a new coach who will at least offer the promise of a new tomorrow.
Waiting in the wings
Dave Shula and Jim Mora of the Saints, who resigned Monday, are just the first two coaches to depart this year.
Among the others on the bubble are Rich Kotite of the Jets, Wayne Fontes of the Lions, June Jones of the Falcons, Rich Brooks of the Rams, Dennis Green of the Vikings, Dan Reeves of the Giants, Dave Wannstedt of the Bears and Barry Switzer of the Cowboys.
With all these potential openings on the horizon, this may be Mike Ditka's last chance to get back into the game.
Ditka wants another shot after being fired by the Bears four years ago, but he doesn't want to be interviewed for the job. The Rams were interested two years ago until he declined to be interviewed.
He feels his credentials -- a record of 112-66 and a Super Bowl -- speak for themselves if a team wants him.
Ditka also insists he's curbed his infamous temper.
"I believed if I ever coached again, you would never see a blowup," he said. "I think I understand why there were blowups then and they weren't right. I don't think I'd ever blow up again at an official, player, situation or anything."
Well, Ditka says he doesn't even throw golf clubs anymore.
"Listen," he said. "I played golf the other day, 3-putted seven greens and handed $2,100 to the guys I was playing with when we were done. Didn't say a word. Four years ago, I would have broken my putter and would have been putting with a 2-iron as we went in. I've mellowed. Maybe it's the wine I'm drinking."
It remains to be seen if he can convince a team he really has mellowed.
The NFL announced Sunday that San Francisco coach George Seifert got to 100 wins faster than any other coach when he did it in 132 games. Vince Lombardi did it in 136 games, John Madden in 137, Don Shula in 140 and Joe Gibbs and Bud Grant in 148.
What's wrong with this picture?
They don't count the 52-4-3 record Paul Brown compiled in the All-America Conference from 1946-1949 with the Cleveland Browns. They also don't count his 15-0 perfect season he pulled off in 1948, 24 years before Shula did it in Miami.
Since the NFL didn't merge with the AAFC, but absorbed three teams, the NFL refuses to include AAFC records in its record book the way it does AFL records.
After joining the NFL in 1950, Brown won 48 of his first 61 games to get to 100 in just 120 games.
It's petty for the NFL not to count that feat.
Incidentally, the Browns were started when the AAFC was formed in 1946 after the Rams left Cleveland for Los Angeles after the 1945 season.
Now the two former Cleveland teams, the Rams and Ravens, will play Sunday at Memorial stadium.