Ed Newman: We’ve been working together, on and off, for a long time now. We met in 1979, when Tony joined the Miami Dolphins. I was a six-year vet on the offensive line by then, and I thought he was a gem. If I could get only 3 or 4 inches to block a hole for him, somehow he’d get through it. I don’t know how he did it.
Tony Nathan: Well, I always say, Ed loves to help people. He knows I don’t like talking about myself and my statistics, but I do have two AFC championship rings. Ed has those, plus a Super Bowl ring from the 1973 season. He wears it all the time.
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Newman: The last Super Bowl I played in, in January of 1985, I was already in law school at night. I had always thought I was going to be a professional of some kind — a dentist or something. I went to Duke University with that in mind. But football was just so much fun that I took a little detour. And when a knee injury ended my career later that year, I switched over to daytime law school to finish up.
Nathan: My education took a different path from Ed’s. While I was at the University of Alabama as an undergraduate, I played for the great coach Bear Bryant. I joined the NFL without finishing my degree. Coach Bryant made me promise to go back and finish later, but it never seemed like there was a good time to do that.
Newman: After about a decade, I got the idea to run for county court judge. I was drawn to the role because a judge can take a part in ensuring the right outcome for a case. As a lawyer, your role is to help your client win, even if that’s in conflict with your gut feelings. I won my campaign and started on the job in January 1995.
Nathan: Meanwhile, I stayed in the league as a player and then a coach, including with the Dolphins. I also coached college football for a while. But at the end of my coaching career, I returned to Miami.
Newman: Dolphin alumni from our era are extremely close. We have a bond, because we were all scared of our coach, Don Shula. Or I should say, we were very respectful of him. Coach Shula was an extreme presence and very demanding.
Nathan: He had a way of understanding men and getting what he needed out of them.
Newman: Sometime around 2010, my reelection campaign had a party at a big cigar store in Miami, and Tony attended as my guest. The bailiff I’d been working with had told me he was leaving the job. So I asked Tony to apply; I thought working together would be fabulous. He thought I was just kidding with him.
Nathan: Sure did.
Newman: I had to ask him about four or five times, and finally I said, “Let me talk to your wife.” So I did. And she told him, “Tony, just see what he has to say.”
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