A player-by-player look at the 1972 Dolphins and what they did after perfection – The Denver Post


A look at what happened to the members of the Miami Dolphins 1972 team after their achieved perfection with an undefeated season and Super Bowl title. The team will be honored Sunday night at halftime of the Dolphins-Steelers game at Hard Rock Stadium.

Dick Anderson, safety: The 1973 NFL Defensive player of the Year played nine seasons in a career cut short by injury in a Pro Bowl game. After playing, he stayed in Coral Gables and remains involved in insurance and real estate businesses. He said: “Almost all our players were drafted by [General Manager] Joe Thomas by the time Don Shula came [in 1970]. Then everything changed from the previous coaching staff in 30 seconds when Shula arrived. He had every minute of every day planned. His staff, starting with Bill Arsnparger on defense, was great. We were ready to win.”

Charley Babb, safety: His blocked punt sparked ‘72 playoff win against Cleveland, and he played eight years for Dolphins. After football, he became president of a construction company in Fort Myers.

Larry Ball, linebacker: He had the unique experience of playing for undefeated Dolphins and winless Tampa Bay team in 1976. After the NFL, he became a high school football coach for years in South Florida.

Marlin Briscoe, wide receiver: The first Black quarterback to start in professional football in Denver played three years and collected two Super Bowl rings with the Dolphins at receiver. After the NFL, he suffered from drug problems before straightening out his life and operating a Boy & Girls center in Los Angeles. He died at age 76 in 2022.

Nick Buoniconti, linebacker: He was taken in the 13th round of AFL draft, and he wound up in the New England Patriots Hall of Fame, Dolphins Honor Roll and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After playing, he was a sports agent, CEO of two Fortune 500 companies and co-founder of The Miami Project To Cure Paralysis after his son, Marc, was paralyzed playing football. He died of pneumonia at age 78 in in 2019.

Doug Crusan, tackle: He was a first-round pick of the Dolphins in 1968 whose career ended with a broken leg in 1974. After playing, Crusan was a sales manager in Indianapolis, where he threatened to have salesmen, “run Shula’s gassers” if they didn’t meet numbers.

Larry Csonka, fullback: A Hall of Famer whose running was focal point of the offense in 1972, with a 5.2-yard average and 1,117 yards. After playing he became general manager of Jacksonville Bulls before creating a successful outdoors show, “North to Alaska.” He said: “Nobody can better us but they can certainly tie us. So, you’re pulling very heavily against them to do that. It makes you feel alive. It makes you feel like you’re part of it again, and that’s a very good thing.”

Tom Curtis, defensive back: After stints in Baltimore and Los Angeles, he was picked up by the Dolphins in 1972 before being traded back to Los Angeles in 1973. After the NFL, he retired in South Florida and began Curtis Publishing that published Dolphin Digest and a book on the 1972 season entitled, “Still Perfect.”

Jim Del Gaizo, quarterback: He left the Dolphins after the 1972 season for years with Green Bay and the New York Giants before returning to the Dolphins to close his career in 1975. He has lived in Plantation for 41 years and worked in the mortgage business. He said: “It went by in the wink of an eye. Fifty years. The greatest Dolphins memory I have besides the season is in going to the White House in 2013 and meeting with President Obama. I never saw Shula tongue-tied in my life, but he was at the White House. I had the biggest grin on my face the whole time. My face was sore from smiling.”

Vern Den Herder, defensive end: He had 10.5 sacks in 1972 and played 12 years with the Dolphins. He began buying farmland in his native Sioux Center, Iowa, while still playing and continues farming there at age 73. He said: “At the time, our big goal was to win the Super Bowl. That started on the plane ride going back from the previous Super Bowl. Personally, I never thought this undefeated situation would ever had meant as much as it does. It’s unique and, as it goes on, is a lot of fun for us.”

Jim Dunaway, defensive tackle: He was sidelined with back surgery during the 1972 season, but he went on to play nine seasons in Buffalo. After the NFL, he started a dairy company in Sandy Hook, Miss. He died at 76 in 2018.

Norm Evans, tackle: An expansion team member who played 10 of 14 NFL seasons with Dolphins. After the NFL, he remained in Seattle after his final season to start a ministry and has retired there.

Manny Fernandez, defensive tackle: He had 17 tackles in Super Bowl VII and retired due to injuries in 1975 after eight seasons. He moved 12 years ago from Broward to Ellaville, Ga., where he lives on 18 wooded acres. he said: “I like to think we were special. Not just for that season, but we had four or five pretty good seasons in a row and a lot of great guys who are still close.”

Marv Fleming, tight end: He was a four-time NFL champion between playing for Green Bay and Dolphins. After the NFL, he got involved in private business and acting in Los Angeles, where he said in the movie, “Heaven Can Wait,” to Warren Beatty: “Mr. Farnsworth, have you ever played college ball before?”

Tim Foley, cornerback: He spent all 11 NFL seasons with Dolphins with 22 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries. After the NFL, he was one of the top producers in network marketing for Amway and still resides in Tavares, Fla.

Hubert Ginn, running back: The special-teams player spent six of nine NFL seasons with Dolphins. After playing, he sold cars in Albany, Ga., before retiring to Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Bob Griese, quarterback: He retired from playing in 1980 and became one of six players on the 1972 team elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He also became ABC’s top broadcast analyst for college football and then a Miami Dolphins announcer before retiring to split time between Jupiter, Fla., and Boone, N.C. He said: “We had a hell of a defense, and we had a hell of an offensive line. We had the hell of a running game…and we were out there not trying to score points so much but to stay on the field, keep our defense on the sideline and the opponent’s very good offense on the sideline.”

Al Jenkins, guard: Played as a Dolphins reserve that 1972 season in an eight-year NFL career, and his next stop was starting in Houston. After playing, he worked for a beer distributor before retiring to New Orleans.

Ed Jenkins, running back: The 11th-round pick was one of three rookies to make the team before retiring after the 1973 season. After the NFL, he took the advice of Nick Buoniconti to attend law school and became prosecutor and district attorney in Boston.

Curtis Johnson, cornerback: He holds the Dolphins record with nine blocked kicks in his nine years with the team. After playing he became a firefighter in Toledo and is retired in Detroit.

Bob Heinz, defensive tackle: He started in three Dolphins Super Bowls before retiring in 1975 due to injury. He became a corporate sales manager before retiring to New London, Wisc.

Mike Howell, cornerback: Intercepted 23 passes in seven-plus seasons in Cleveland before coming to the Dolphins in mid-1972 and playing one game. He died at age 73 in 2016.

Jim Kiick, running back: He still ranks fifth among Dolphins all-time rushers with 3,544 yard and left the team in 1975 to join the World Football League with Larry Csonka and Paul Warfield. After playing he remained in Broward, where he was a private investigator until suffering from dementia and moving into an assisted living facility. He died at age 73 in 2020.

Howard Kindig, offensive lineman: He served as long-snapper for two Dolphins seasons in his 11-year career. He later worked in real estate in Louisiana and Houston.

Bob Kuechenberg, guard: He retired after 15 Dolphins seasons in 1984 with team record for most seasons and most games played and was an eight-time finalist for the Hall of Fame. He owned several private businesses. He died at age 71 in 2019.

Mike Kolen, linebacker: Nicknamed “Captain Crunch” for his hard hitting, he played seven years with the Dolphins. He later became a real estate broker and financial adviser in his native Alabama.

Charlie Leigh, running back: A punt and kickoff returner who played in the Dolphins’ three Super Bowl seasons in early 1970s. He later worked in construction. He died of lung cancer at age 60 in 2006.

Jim Langer, center: Waived by Cleveland, Langer joined the Dolphins in 1970 and became a starter in 1972 in his Hall of Fame career. After the NFL, he worked for a truck company in his native Minnesota. He died at 71 in 2019.

Larry Little, guard: He had a 13-year career before retiring in 1980 en route to the Hall of Fame. He became a college coach at his alma mater, Bethune-Cookman, and North Carolina Central before returning to Miami. he said: “We knew we had a good football team from the year before, and we wanted to redeem ourselves [after] losing against Dallas in the Super Bowl, but we didn’t ever even think about going undefeated. We only wanted to get back to the Super Bowl and win it.”

Billy Lothridge, punter: Retired after eight years with four NFL teams in 1971 only to be signed by Dolphins to punt two games in 1972 for an injured Larry Seiple. He died at age 54 in 1996.

Jim Mandich, tight end. He caught the winning touchdown at Minnesota in 1972 and played eight years with the Dolphins before collecting a third Super Bowl ring in 1978 at Pittsburgh. He later became president of a South Florida construction company and popular and beloved radio talk-show host, where his phrases like “never better,” and “green lizards” became part of the show. He died of a cancer of the bile duct at 62 in 2011.

Bob Matheson, linebacker: He said he was at the “end of a mediocre career” when he was traded to Dolphins, and in 1972 his No. 53 became name of novel “53 Defense.” He died of Hodgkin’s disease at age 49 in 1994.

Maulty Moore, defensive tackle: Played three seasons for the Dolphins before finishing his five NFL years with Cincinnati and Tampa Bay. Moore later worked in Broward as a department head at Sheridan Technical Center and is retired in Port St. Lucie.

Wayne Moore, tackle: Claimed off waivers from San Francisco, he started at left tackle for the Dolphins’ Super Bowl years and played through 1978. Later he was a part-time high school coach. He died from a heart attack at 44 in 1989.

Earl Morrall, quarterback: The 1968 NFL MVP in Baltimore for coach Don Shula led the Dolphins to a 10-0 record in replacing an injured Bob Griese. Later, he became mayor of Davie. He died at age 79 in 2014.

Mercury Morris, running back: He led the NFL in touchdowns in 1972 and was a three-time Pro Bowl pick with Dolphins. After the NFL he has lived in South Florida and became involved with sports memorabilia shows. He said: “I met Buzz Aldrin and asked him what it’s like to walk on the moon and he told me. I still didn’t know what it was like to walk on the moon, but I knew what he told me. That’s what it’s like when we talk about going undefeated. You don’t know what it really feels like unless you do it.”

Lloyd Mumphord, cornerback: He was named team’s top special-teams player in 1972 with two blocked field goals. After the NFL, he was a restaurateur in Tampa before retiring to Lafayette, La.

Jesse Powell, linebacker: He played five seasons with the Dolphins after being drafted in ninth round in 1969. After the NFL, he worked in insurance in Lubbock, Texas. He died at age 65 in 2012.

Jake Scott, safety: He was the 1972 season’s Super Bowl MVP and remains Dolphins’ all-time interception leader. After the NFL, he split time between Hawaii and Colorado. He died after a fall at age 75 in 2020.

Larry Seiple, punter: He averaged 40 yards a punt in his 11 years, but his biggest play was a fake punt for a 37-yard run that sparked the win in the 1972 AFC Championship Game at Pittsburgh. He now lives in The Villages in Central Florida after a coaching career that included the Dolphins (under Don Shula), Tampa Bay and Detroit before closing with Howard Schnellenberger at Florida Atlantic University. He said: “It’s been 50 years of waiting for the last team to get defeated, and right now we’re waiting on the Eagles. I’m hoping they’ll wait until I’m gone until someone else goes undefeated. It’s been a lot of fun for 50 years.”

Bill Stanfill, defensive end: He held the Dolphins’ all-time sack record with 67.5 until Jason Taylor passed him. After the NFL, he ran a real estate business in his hometown Albany, Ga. He died at age 69 in 2016.

Otto Stowe, wide receiver: After two Dolphins seasons, he was traded to Dallas in 1973 and retired after a season there. He worked as an athletic consultant in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Doug Swift, linebacker: He started for six Dolphins seasons before retiring upon being claimed by expansion Tampa Bay. He took his medical school exam while he was still a Dolphin and became an anesthesiologist in Philadelphia.

Howard Twilley, wide receiver: An original Dolphin in 1966, Twilley played 11 years with the franchise and had 23 touchdowns. After the NFL, he opened Athletes Foot stores in his native Oklahoma before selling them and retiring in 1990.

Paul Warfield, wide receiver: Hall of Famer who averaged 21.6 yards a catch and scored 35 touchdowns in his five Dolphins years. Later, he worked with NFL merchandising company before moving from Palm Beach County to Beaumont, Calif. He said: “The national media was not necessarily paying that much attention [to the undefeated season] until, as I recollect, we got to New York to play the Giants, next to our final ball game of the year. Then all of a sudden, it was like the New York media…”

Garo Yepremian, kicker: His three field goals, including a 51-yarder, led to Miami beating Minnesota in closest game of the ‘72 season. He’s remembered for Super Bowl blooper when a field-goal attempt went awry and he threw an interception — a pass re-created in the White House visit with President Barack Obama. After the NFL he became a motivational speaker. He died from neuroendocrine cancer, in Media, Pa., at the age of 70 in 2015.



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