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June 4, 2013

Dolphins’ perfect season seemed perfectly typical until it was over

In 1972, Miami didn’t have fans who grew up rooting for the Dolphins as little children. After all, they didn’t start playing until 1966. Miami is different from many towns. Its teams don’t have that hysterical following others enjoy. This isn’t a grass-roots town.

In 1972, Miami didn’t have fans who grew up rooting for the Dolphins as little children. After all, they didn’t start playing until 1966. Miami is different from many towns. Its teams don’t have that hysterical following others enjoy. This isn’t a grass-roots town.

Miami was slow to embrace the Dolphins. Miami is slow to embrace everything.

Those Dolphins won all 17 games they played that year, yet in the moment, I don’t think anyone thought about them going unbeaten until the very end. It just never occurred to anyone because, well, it had never been done. This wasn’t a team that bulldozed people. They didn’t go out there and kill you. That wasn’t their style of play.

Even when they were on the verge of going unbeaten, there wasn’t this sense of ‘this is one of the greatest teams there has ever been.’ Not until it was over, anyway.

Those Dolphins were a very low-key bunch, with Bob Griese and Jim Langer and Bob Kuechenberg and those guys. The Dolphins had a ‘no-name defense’ for goodness sake.

People in our newsroom were excited about it, but Ed Storin and Larry Jinks were the editors in charge and they were hardly cheerleaders. So covering the team was businesslike.

Today, you appreciate those years vastly more looking back than we did at the time.

Truthfully, it was Valhalla. We were in paradise going through it, but we sure didn’t look at it like that then. To us, it was just a job.

With Don Shula, you never got the sense what they were doing was remarkable. There wasn’t any wild celebration. With him, it was something he expected. It was supposed to happen that way.

Then, all of a sudden, it happened.

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