Breaking News Bar
updated: 8/20/2013 4:45 PM

'72 Dolphins finally get their salute at White House

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese, left, and Hall of Fame Dolphins Coach Don Shula pose with President Barack Obama and a signed team jersey during a ceremony Tuesday in the East Room of the White House.

      Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese, left, and Hall of Fame Dolphins Coach Don Shula pose with President Barack Obama and a signed team jersey during a ceremony Tuesday in the East Room of the White House.
    Associated Press

  • Former Miami Dolphins fullback Larry Csonka, second from left, grimaces as Hall of Fame coach Don Shula jokingly shakes a fist at him Tuesday during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

      Former Miami Dolphins fullback Larry Csonka, second from left, grimaces as Hall of Fame coach Don Shula jokingly shakes a fist at him Tuesday during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Some were gray-headed, others a bit stooped, at least one carried a cane. But despite age, there were still hints of the large frames that once had been covered in football pads and which had exploded from lines of scrimmage countless times in an unforgettable season.

Nearly three dozen members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins finally received their White House moment Tuesday, 40 years after they made history by winning 17 games and losing none -- an undefeated NFL feat that still stands today.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

President Barack Obama welcomed the former players to the East Room, a periodic occurrence at the White House these days for current sports champions.

Four decades ago, however, saluting athletes was not an established tradition. And the Watergate scandal was preoccupying President Richard Nixon back then anyway. So the men of that historic Dolphins team had not received their due.

"I know that some people may be asking why we are doing this after all these years," Obama deadpanned. "My answer is simple: I wanted to be the young guy up here for once."

The faces were still recognizable: Hall of Famers Larry Csonka, the team's star fullback; quarterback Bob Griese; offensive lineman Larry Little; linebacker Nick Buoniconti; and of course their leader, coach Don Shula.

"Some of them are a little harder to recognize these days," Obama said. "They don't have the Afros, the mutton chops, the Fu Manchus."

Obama, an avid sports fan and regular ESPN watcher, made clear to the Dolphins and his audience that as a Chicagoan, his football team is the Bears.

"We understand," Shula said. "You have to root for someone."

Obama noted that two years ago he recognized the 1985 Bears on the White House South Lawn. The team had not received the usual White House reception in 1986, a decision attributed to the space shuttle Challenger disaster, which occurred two days after the Bears beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

"That day I called them the greatest team ever. But, I mean, take it with a grain of salt," the president added sheepishly with the Dolphins clustered behind him. "The Bears lost once in their nearly perfect season." Then he paused for effect. "It happened to be to the Dolphins."

At least three players, including Hall of Fame center Jim Langer, did not make the trip to the White House, citing political differences with Obama.

Little and Griese, speaking to reporters afterward, said they regretted that those former teammates missed the ceremony.

"I don't have any thoughts about those guys. I'm just sorry that they weren't here," Griese said. "We had a great day. The White House treated us greatly. Everybody who was here was happy they were here."

Little said the visit felt like a career capstone.

"I can go no higher. This is it," he said. "Hall of Fame, 17 and 0, 32 and 2 over two years, and now being on the White House grounds. Can't beat it."

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here