Before Major TV Success, Larry King Had Crazy Working Relationship with the Miami Dolphins

by Chris Haney

As news broke of the passing of legendary host Larry King at age 87, many friends and fans shared stories about the late television icon.

One of the lesser known highlights of his long media career included his time covering NFL football in Florida. King is a native of Brooklyn, NY, but he got his career start in “The Sunshine State.” During the Miami Dolphins first winning season in 1970 – also the first year the AFL merged with the NFL – King helped call games for the team.

While in Florida, he changed his name from Ziegler to King at the suggestion of his boss. He became a color commentator for WIOD and the Dolphins for two seasons in 1970-1971. In fact, he worked with longtime broadcaster Henry Barrow while with Miami. However, King lost his job midseason over legal issues following his arrest.

In December 1971, King’s former business partner accused him of grand larceny, according to the Miami Herald. Although the charges were eventually dropped, the commentator did not return to the Dolphins organization. He moved on to a different venture instead, which turned out to be the right decision.

He landed an all-night nationally broadcast radio program over the Mutual Broadcasting System called “The Larry King Show” from 1978 to 1994. The show became a massive success and turned Larry King into a household name.

Larry King Talks About His Days With the Dolphins

Even though Larry King only spent two seasons with the Miami Dolphins, he stayed a lifelong fan of the team. He’s even been seen wearing their former quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s jersey and former defensive end Cameron Wake’s jersey as well.

During an interview with Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, King explained his Dolphins fandom. He was part of the earliest seasons of the franchise, which engrained it into him after experiencing amazing moments and gut-wrenching losses.

“How could I not be a Dolphins fan?” King told Hyde. “I was there for their first game (and) on their radio team for their greatest days. Was friends with their biggest names. I was one of those who lived and died in Miami in those days with how they did.”

Additionally, King shared an amusing anecdote from his time with the franchise. But at the time, King probably didn’t find anything funny about the situation he got himself into with iconic NFL head coach Don Shula.

King was conducting an interview with another Dolphins legend, the running back Larry Csonka. The journalist followed Csonka to the team’s medical room, which Shula didn’t appreciate.

“Get the [expletive] out of the medical room!” the Super Bowl-winning coach screamed at King during the live interview. Shula later scolded King asking him how he didn’t know that the medical room was off-limits.

Yet the two men had a solid working relationship and King even paid tribute to his “dear friend” after Shula passed away. In addition, he called Shula the greatest football coach ever.

“Rest In Peace to my dear friend Don Shula. We shared many great memories together on and off the field. Don Shula could not tell a lie and is the greatest football coach off all time,” King wrote in May 2020.

[H/T PopCulture]