’72 Dolphins Praying for a Giant Win

By Christopher Gabriel, Blog Harbor

As we inch closer to kick-off for Super Bowl XLII, the game itself will be preceded on various networks by the annual ritual of Pregame Shows from Hell.  These programs really make you consider running out to the nearest Interstate and playing kickball at rush hour.  They’ll serve up stories and interviews ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime.  The barber who cut Tom Brady’s hair when he was four years old, Michael Strahan’s third grade teacher saying he saw greatness in him even then, or Randy Moss’s views on . . . Randy Moss.  The sum of all of it will possess about the same news value as Paris Hilton breaking down Super Tuesday.super-bowl-logo.gif Somewhere in the mix, though, we’ll get mention of the 1972 Miami Dolphins and their perfect season.  In fact, we’ll get mention of it before, during and after the game regardless of the outcome.  Would it have been all that surprising if, during either of the California presidential debates, CNN’s Anderson Cooper or Wolf Blitzer asked a candidate their thoughts on the 1972 Miami Dolphins? 

When Sunday finally rolls around, I fully expect the usual cast members to be trotted out for public consumption:  Don Shula, Larry Csonka and your leader in the Never Forget About Us clubhouse, The Maestro of Whine, Mercury Morris.

Blog Harbor contacted Morris’ people for an interview but phone calls were not returned.

You’ll recall during the regular season, when it was clear the Patriots would make a serious run at becoming the second NFL team in history to become undefeated champions, those pesky ’72 Dolphins began popping up everywhere.  And with every successive Patriots win, you saw those Dolphins more and more.  Newspapers, magazines, ESPN, national radio broadcasts . . . it’s as if they were systematically carrying out their grand plan after huddling up in an abandoned warehouse somewhere in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.  I can almost hear Morris saying, “Ok, Coach Shula, you got the daily print media.  Get your ass in front of every notepad you can find and begin spreading the word . . . Csonka, magazines my friend.  Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, ESPN The Magazine, whatever you can do to keep us fresh in everyone’s minds, DO IT!  Me, I got TV covered.  ESPN loves me.  Even if those damn Patriots weren’t undefeated, they’d still want to talk with me just to see how I’m doing.  Oh yeah, I’m still relevant.”

And while it may seem Blog Harbor has been a bit too preoccupied with Mercury Morris, there really hasn’t been any way to avoid the man and his fellow Dolphins. tom-brady-and-michael-strahan-at-giants-stadium.jpg The actual Patriots-Giants Super Bowl match-up is more than compelling for a variety of reasons.  And certainly, to be fair, one of those reasons is the chance for the Patriots to join the ’72 Dolphins on pro football’s immortality mountaintop.  But therein lies the problem: Rather than sit back and let the Patriots and Giants have their moment, they can’t seem to help themselves from trying to be the story.  The game is New England vs. New York.  Not New England vs. New York featuring the 1972 Miami Dolphins.  If the national media would kick back their enabling of Mercury and his Marionettes by even 20%, we might be able to go 24 hours without hearing about them.

The other subplot in all of this is the constant banter from former ’72 Dolphins, and certainly their fans, about how they’re the greatest team in NFL history.  It’s not enough to endure hearing about this team’s undefeated season; fine, at least there’s a reason to make a claim for their fame.  But the greatest team ever label?  Not a chance. 

Five teams that were superior, at least from this vantage point, come to mind immediately:  The ’78 Steelers, the ’84 and ’89 49ers, the ’85 Bears and the ’96 Green Bay Packers.  Certainly there are others out there, notably the ’92 Cowboys and even the ’91 Redskins.

Rankings like that can be argued all day; that’s what makes being a sports fan both fun and maddening.  But beyond one man’s rankings, this much is clear: Having an undefeated season does not immediately qualify you as the greatest team of all time.  Certainly, if New England wins on Sunday, they will have the greatest season of all time.  But the greatest team?  I don’t think so.  

Super Bowl Sunday approaches and the clock is ticking on dual histories:  One of those histories was engraved into the minds of football fans everywhere 35 years ago in Los Angeles.  The other one, its final chapter will be written in Glendale, Arizona.

As it’s been noted here before, should New England finish off the Giants to cap a 19-0 championship season, it likely will spell the end of the media pursuing Mercury Morris and his Dolphins colleagues ever again.  Although they will always have the distinction of being the first to accomplish an undefeated championship season in the NFL, ours has become a society that increasingly puts more weight on sports accomplishments and records happening now.  Right or wrong, the vast majority of fans following the league these days view anything pre-1990 as ancient.  With that in mind, Team Arrogance Personified can do everyone a favor and simply drift away with the outgoing tide.

And if New York does the unthinkable and defeats the Patriots, Mercury and his Marionettes likely will sponsor and pay for the Giants victory parade . . . just as soon as they’re finished making appearances on ESPN, CNN, Fox and the BBC. 

super bowl logo, courtesy sportslogos.net; tom brady-michael strahan photo, courtesy al bello/getty images

For Blog Harbor and more cool stuff visit CGabriel.com

Filed Under: FootballMassachusettsMediaMiamiNew EnglandNFLPro FootballRandomSportsThoughts


About the Author: Christopher Gabriel is the host of the cleverly named Christopher Gabriel Program on AM 970 WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota. You can hear him weekdays from 9 to Noon. As a writer and humorist, his work has been been published online by the Chicago Sun-Times, Reuters and publications within the Sun-Times News Group.

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  1. Black Hornet says:

    You wanna know why the 72 Dolphins keep getting brought up? Because of this phony story about the popping champagne celebration. It happened once, I think after the Bears game in 85. And ever since, everytime someone gets to 8-0, they run down someone for a comment. This year the backlash got to be so great – and for no reason at all. So I had no problem with Mercury Morris trying to capitalize. Good for him for sticking it to the craptastic media and all the myopians who believed their drivel.


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