Don’t expect Mike Charles and Don Shula to exchange pleasantries when the Chargers meet the Dolphins in Miami Sunday.
Charles played under Coach Shula with the Dolphins from 1983 through 1986, and he doesn’t savor the memory of their relationship.
The Charger nose tackle wouldn’t go into detail when he talked about his Dolphin days Wednesday, but made it clear that Shula was not high on his list of friends.
“I don’t recall anything about what happened with Shula,” Charles said. “There were a lot of different issues, a lot of different things that went on. I can’t recall them all. If I had total recall, I wouldn’t be playing football.
“I don’t want to talk about Shula anymore. I just want to talk about Sunday’s game. It’s not me against Shula; it’s the Chargers against the Dolphins.”
Charles, a second-round draft choice of the Dolphins in 1983, was fined $500 in his rookie season for smoking marijuana. Three years later, he was suspended for three games for missing two meetings and refusing to take a drug test.
Charles also was in and out of Shula’s doghouse because of a weight problem. He formerly weighed more than 300, and now weighs between 295 and 300. He was waived in August 1987 and picked up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who passed him on to the Chargers two weeks later.
“I’ll still hang out with the guys when we get to Miami (Friday),” Charles said. “I’ll still probably be on Hugh Green’s boat, and play basketball with Roy Foster and Mark Clayton, arm wrestle with Woody Bennett and play racquetball with Tony Nathan (former Dolphin). Clayton is my best friend on the team.”
Asked if he would say anything to Shula, Charles said, “No.”
Asked at what point he had a falling out with Shula, Charles said, “I don’t know how our relationship dissolved like that, but it did.”
Shula, reached by telephone, declined to discuss the matter.
“It’s tough for me to recall all those things right now,” he said.
Charger defensive end Leslie O’Neal took another step Wednesday in his struggle to come back from the knee injury that has kept him out since late in the 1986 season.
O’Neal took part in a regular team workout for the first time, and Coach Al Saunders said, “We’ll probably step up his involvement as the weeks go on. We haven’t set any timetable yet, but he certainly has made some progress.”
Tight end Eric Sievers was placed on injured reserve because of a neck injury that has failed to respond to treatment. To replace him, the Chargers signed tight end Wilbur Strozier, a second-year man from Georgia who had been released by the Seattle Seahawks before the season began.
Strozier, 6-foot 4-inches and 255 pounds, was a seventh-round draft choice of the Denver Broncos last year. He was waived by the Broncos and signed with the Seahawks as a free agent, appearing in 12 games.
Running back Gary Anderson practiced for the first time since suffering the thigh injury that forced him to miss last Sunday’s game, but Saunders wasn’t optimistic.
“He just jogged around a little bit,” Saunders said. “It’s still a little swollen, so I don’t know. It started out to be a one-day thing, and now it’s a week. Gary isn’t a fast healer, and a vascular thing like this takes time anyway.”
Guard Dennis McKnight was elected Charger player representative, succeeding Gill Byrd. The meeting was conducted by Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Assn. Upshaw said, “I’m making the rounds of the teams and giving them the data on management’s latest proposal. About the only change is that now you have to be dead to be a free agent.” . . . The Chargers list quarterback Babe Laufenberg (rib) as doubtful and running back Gary Anderson and cornerback Elvis Patterson (shoulder and chest) as questionable for Sunday’s game. . . . The Dolphins listed linebacker David Frye (knee) and cornerback Paul Lankford (knee) as doubtful and defensive end John Bosa (thigh), fullback Woody Bennett (back) and cornerback Reyna Thompson (shoulder) as questionable.