Like Griese, Nick Buoniconti is a Hall of Famer who made a second career in television, appearing on the long-running series Inside the NFL. But that’s only a fraction of his story.
His son Marc is paralyzed from the neck down, from making a tackle for The Citadel in 1985. That tragedy inspired Nick to create the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, an acclaimed research center at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.
Hardship also helped make Eugene “Mercury” Morris a crusader. The Dolphins’ running back served three years in prison after pleading guilty to selling cocaine to an undercover federal agent in 1982. Upon his release, Morris barnstormed the country, warning people of the perils of drugs.
These days, he’s best known as the go-to-Dolphin for media types needing a clever sound bite about the latest undefeated team closing in on perfection.
During the Patriots’ undefeated run through the 2007 regular season (they ultimately lost in the Super Bowl), Morris infamously quipped: “Don’t call me when you’re in my town, call me when you’re on my block and I see you next door moving your furniture in.”
Morris’ outspoken defense of his team’s uniqueness rubbed plenty the wrong way. But years later, he hasn’t softened one bit.
“The great pleasure I have is in knowing, when the time was for us to have the uniforms on that they have on now, we did more in a short span of time than anybody has ever done,” Morris said in September.
Then there’s Henry Stuckey, who’s on the opposite end of the attention-seeking spectrum. The little-used defensive back essentially vanished after his 1976 retirement. He hasn’t participated in any of the alumni events over the years, despite Moore’s best efforts to track him down.
Turns out, Stuckey is a retired casino worker living in Atlantic City, N.J. The Miami Herald reached him by phone last week, and convinced him to give his first interview in years.
“I do regret not seeing the old fellas, but I’ve moved on,” said Stuckey, who isn’t attending this weekend’s bonanza and keeps his Super Bowl memories, and ring, tucked away.
“I’m not trying to say people are jealous or don’t understand, but how can I wear my Super Bowl ring walking around Atlantic City? It’s like walking around Oakland (Stuckey’s hometown).”
There was no shortage of sparkle Thursday at the Dolphins’ training facility. Ten of the team’s more than three-dozen living members gathered to kick off the weekend, and each flashed their hard-earned championship ring for the cameras.
Griese and Anderson were there. So were Bob Kuechenberg and Larry Little, offensive linemen who opened those gaping holes for Morris, Csonka and Jim Kiick.
They couldn’t stay long; Coach was waiting. Shula had the team over to his home Thursday night. A banquet was held Friday, and Saturday afternoon, the graying icons attended the premiere of More Than Perfect, billed as the untold story of 1972 Dolphins. The film is coming soon to the NFL Network.
“Forty is a big number,” Kuechenberg said. “It’s not 50. But I don’t know how many will be here at 50.”
Added Fernandez: “They’re becoming more special because of our age. It didn’t initially start that way, but it does seem that every reunion we lose another player, another member of the family. I’m not keeping score. It’s something we do think about.”