Miami Dolphins

Joe Auer, who scored the first touchdown in Miami Dolphins history, dies at 77

In this Sept. 2, 1966 file photo, Joe Auer of the Miami Dophins takes the kickoff in the first play of the Dolphins first-ever game and runs 95 yards for a touchdown before 26,776 fans at the Miami Orange Bowl. Auer is pursued by Oakland’s Mike Mercer (10) and Rodger Bird (21). Auer played football at Coral Gables High. Oakland won the game, 23-14.
In this Sept. 2, 1966 file photo, Joe Auer of the Miami Dophins takes the kickoff in the first play of the Dolphins first-ever game and runs 95 yards for a touchdown before 26,776 fans at the Miami Orange Bowl. Auer is pursued by Oakland’s Mike Mercer (10) and Rodger Bird (21). Auer played football at Coral Gables High. Oakland won the game, 23-14. Miami Herald file photo

Joe Auer, who scored the first touchdown in Miami Dolphins history, died Saturday.

The Dolphins announced news of Auer’s death Monday. He was 77 and died in Winter Park.

Auer was a local standout for the Dolphins in the franchise’s inaugural 1966 season. He attended Coral Gables Senior High School before attending Georgia Tech. A running back, Auer played on the Dolphins’ first season in the American Football League following two years with the Buffalo Bills.

He immediately etched his name into franchise lore. On the first play of Miami’s first game, Auer returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown at the Miami Orange Bowl.

“Auer once joked how hundreds of times people have approached him who claimed they were at the Orange Bowl that night,” the Dolphins wrote in their release announcing Auer’s death. “He said he must have heard from more people about that game than the 26,276 who actually attended.”

Auer finished the season with 416 rushing yards and four touchdowns, and added 22 catches for 263 yards and four touchdowns. He was named the team’s MVP.

He spent two seasons with the Dolphins before finishing his career with one season with the Atlanta Falcons. Auer also won AFL Championships in each of his two seasons with the Bills. Buffalo originally acquired him in exchange for a first-round pick with the Kansas City Chiefs, who originally drafted the halfback.

Auer stayed involved in sports following his retirement from football. After retirement, Auer founded RaceCar Engineering, a company that built race cars. Some of his cars set track records and won championships. He later founded Competitive Edge Motorsports, which raced in NASCAR’s Busch and Nextel Cup Series from 2004-2006.

David Wilson, a Maryland native, is the Miami Herald’s utility man for sports coverage.


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