Miami Dolphins

Former Miami Dolphins speak about legacy of former kicker Garo Yepremian

Former Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula demonstrates how he felt during Super Bowl VII when Garo Yepremian made his infamous "backward pass." This was a media event sponsored by Sprint in Pembroke Pines.
Former Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula demonstrates how he felt during Super Bowl VII when Garo Yepremian made his infamous "backward pass." This was a media event sponsored by Sprint in Pembroke Pines. Miami Herald File Photo, 1999

“Garo went from ‘I kicked a touchdown’ to making some of the most pressure kicks in Dolphins history. He didn’t know much about football when he started his career but certainly helped win a lot of games for us during his time in Miami. When you think back about Garo there were a lot of great moments and some that were not so great. No matter what, though, he had a positive attitude all the time. He always wanted to be involved in everything, and I enjoyed having him on the team. He was unique in Dolphins history and will be missed.”

— Don Shula

“Garo was only 5-8 but stood a lot taller than that and played a big role in Dolphins history. Mentally he was sharp, and I think his success as a kicker was based on his intelligence and his understanding of the challenges involved with kicking a ball through the uprights. There were some great additions to the Dolphins when Coach Shula took over in 1970 — Paul Warfield, Jake Scott, Tim Foley and others — and Garo was another key acquisition that year. He made some big kicks during the run to our championships in the 1970s. He was from Cyprus and didn’t understand the game when he joined us but he was a fast learner who became one of the best kickers in the league. Being as small as he was, I didn’t know how he kicked a ball so far and so straight, but he did and made most of his field goals. He was a huge part of the success of those great teams.”

— Bob Griese

“I’m very saddened by it of course. Every one of the Dolphins family that knew Garo is. Garo was a unique personality and a very underrated contributor to the Dolphin family. … He’ll be missed. I know that he’s been battling for the last couple of years. He’s in a better place. Cancer is the scourge of our generation. … Garo was really a very, very excellent field-goal kicker, and at one time he held the NFL mark for consecutive kicks. No one knows it now, but they should. I think the record was 19 in a row. I was the snapper and [Don] Strock was the holder.”

— Bob Kuechenberg

“Obviously, it’s a shock. Garo was only 70 years old and that’s still pretty young in this day in age. He was kidded a lot. A lot of people remember his pass, but he won a lot of football games for us, and was very instrumental in us going 17-0. He fit in with our team. We were all pretty unique spirits — myself, [Larry] Csonka, Manny Fernandez. He fit in very well with that team. … He’s sorely going to be missed.”

— Jim Kiick

“[My first thoughts of Garo], I like to start with the good thought — kicking the game-winning field goal in the longest game ever. And then all of a sudden the Super Bowl popped up. You can’t think of one without the other.

“He was a phenomenal kicker. You go through the games and you see, although he wasn’t a football player, as evident by the fact that he didn’t fall on the fumble, he won a lot of games for us. In important situations where everything was on the line for the kicker, Garo would come through. For a small guy, he had a very strong leg and accurate.

“When you come from a foreign country and you’re an immigrant in the United States and you come here starting with nothing, you have to respect the heck out of what he has been able to do.

“The most important part was people would give him a hard time sometimes. He would just let it bounce off him. He was always in good spirits outwardly. For years, he took a negative and made it a very positive in his life, with his foundation and his speeches he made. It’s just a tribute to him that you can take something like that, that was a negative and turn it into the positive.”

— Dick Anderson

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