The year was 1973. Coach Don Shula had just escaped a scandal in the NFL, accusations of trade conferencing. He was unable to shake a later incident, that was buried in police files until 2001.
Since no charges were officially filed, it was never a matter of public record. However, the statute of holding on the charges has run out and they have since made waves in the public's perception of the venerable pig-skin legend.
It seems in late 1973, Mr. Shula was escorted by police from the Miami Hilton after several patrons had complained to management. The police arrived to find Shula naked, outside of his hotel room, engaging in a sexual act while looking at a pornographic magazine depicting sodomy. The police covered Coach Shula with a towel from a nearby room and escorted him into a squad car. Before being placed in the car, Shula was heard to remark "Where's Nikki? Where's my darling?". Future pop musician Prince happened to be outside of the hotel when the arrest occurred and was intrigued by the incident. He went on to pen a song, 'Darling Nikki', in tribute of this incident.
After taking Shula to the police station, officer Jay Mendelhelm realized who he had in custody and released Shula under personal recognizance.
A court date had been set for January 7th, 1974, but having failed to find a single witness willing to testify to the incident, Shula was cleared of all charges and the arrest was sealed from the record.
In 2001, Nevada lawyer Carl Montross, seeking to clear Shula of tax evasion charges filed the previous year, got a hold of the previously sealed documents. After conferring with federal judge Mark Wittingherd as to the legality of releasing such sealed records, Montross was assured such a move was legal.
On March 9, 2001, Montross called a press conference in Reno to announce his findings.
In late 2001, Shula filed an injunction to have the documents suppressed and filed charges of defamation against Montross.
On October 16, 2003, Montross willingly offered an agreement which would allow the documents to be suppressed for no less than ten (10) years, or upon the death of Mr. Shula, whichever should come first. Shula agreed to the stipulations and the records were sealed by Arizona state Judge Bruce Kingston on November 1, 2003.
On October 23, 2012, Shula and Nevada based attorney Gregg Fisbach filed a request for a federal hearing in order to seal the records for an additional ten years and to remove the stipulation of Mr. Shula's death from the injunction.
Montross attempted to have the hearing dismissed but the court of appeals rejected his motion.The hearing was held on the 27th of November, 2012, and was decided in Mr. Shula's favor. The documents were suppressed an additional ten years and included a stipulation for a federal hearing on the date of October 25, 2022 to potentially extend the length of the injunction further. Montross called the entire process a "mockery" and a "complete miscarriage of justice" and had expressed his intent to appeal the case to a higher court, but as of press time, there has been no motion on that appeal.
Shula himself called the ruling "darling" and stated "[Montross] should probably give up law and maybe try his hand at publishing", remarks which some have considered a sly jab at the very incident in question.
On January 26, 2014, the Chandler, AZ police department investigated an incident in which Shula's Steak House, a popular franchise restaurant licensing Shula's name, was vandalized. Several windows were smashed with bricks, the counter, grill, and floors were covered with shampoo, various pieces of furniture and equipment had been damaged or destroyed, including a cash register, which had been used to smash a toilet in the women's bathroom, and a total of seventy-two pornographic magazines had been littered throughout the premises.
As of January 15, 2015, the investigation was still considered open, with no further findings.
Calls to Montross for comment have not been returned.