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August 30, 2019

Former Eagle Mike Golic was once cut by Dolphins in twisted bait-and-switch

ESPN Radio host Mike Golic spent six seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles from the late 1980s into the early 1990s, collecting 10.5 sacks and three interceptions during his time in kelly green.

As NFL rosters go through cut-downs this weekend for the start of the 2019 season, the story of how Golic's career ended with the Miami Dolphins is a harsh reminder of how NFL teams sometimes conduct business.

Golic joined the Dolphins' defensive line in 1993, starting seven games despite partially tearing a ligament in his knee in the first game of the season. Recognizing that his career was in a fragile place, Golic post-poned a full evaluation of the injury and fought through it for a team that went 9-7 and missed the playoffs.

After the season, Golic got surgery on his knee and the Dolphins drafted two defensive tackles, as Business Insider recounted. The writing was on the wall for the veteran.

Sensing the need to impress, Golic went to the trainer's office in April 1994 to ask whether he could practice at mini-camp and gauge his recovery. The catch-22 was that Golic's injury status was a protection against him getting cut by the team, which was still on the hook to pay his $650,000 salary, unless they reached an injury settlement.

Golic explained what happened in 2016 on the former "Mike & Mike" show on ESPN Radio.

"I said, 'Listen, it is not really 100%, but I want to go out here and I want to try to see what it can do during mini-camp.'" Golic said. "He said, 'Well, if you are going to go out there, you need to sign this piece of paper that says your knee is fine and you are going to go practice.' I did because I wanted to go out there and practice."

Immediately after signing the paper, Golic was greeted at the door by a team executive who told him the Dolphins' general manager wanted to see him.

Golic was cut by the Dolphins that day and never played another down in the NFL. The Dolphins didn't have to pay him, either.

The sudden retirement of former Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has brought renewed attention to the strain injuries place on NFL players, who sacrifice their bodies in the short- and long-term to hang onto their careers. For mid-level players like Golic, that reality was as stark 30 years ago as it is today.