Most Dolfans today think Marino and the 80s and 90s. Hidden is this mystique and birth of the Dolphins from expansion team to back to back Super Bowl Champions. As a kid growing up during the glory years of the San Francisco 49ers and my own father’s fascination and passion for the Miami Dolphins, the Dolphins were what stuck. Whether it was going to Miami for the first time and choosing a brand new Dolphins ringer tee over the Miami Hurricanes one in 1987 at JC Penney or when watching the Dolphins on Monday Night Football and hearing my father tell me “That's Don Shula, he is the best coach." I vividly remember the Christmas Day game highlights versus Kansas City in 1971, a year before the magical improbably season. Sure I was born in 1978, but ESPN always had some version of highlights of that game and the Garo Yepremian field goal. As well as the Super Bowl versus the Washington Redskins leading to their first Super Bowl and capping an incredible season.
What was most interesting of this documentary on the Dolphins perfect season was how this team came together through much adversity in the community and on the stat sheet and formed the best team in football history. Best team ever because they went 17-0 and won the Super Bowl. This feat is still the benchmark, year in and year out until someone completes a perfect season and wins a Super Bowl. Sure there have been winning streaks, but 19-1 sure as heck doesn’t cut it as the Patriots found out in 2007-08 season after losing to the underdog New York Giants. What's often not mentioned is that this 1972 team went on to post a 32-2 record in two years and win two consecutive Super Bowls. Even most surprising is that this "core group" of players on this team posted a 65-15-1 record over the first five years of Coach Shula's tenure. Simply amazing considering the landscape of the NFL today with free agency and salary cap concerns.
As a Dolphin fan, viewing this documentary was exactly what the doctor ordered for this mediocre season. Sure the Dolphins have had some notable seasons, but the perfect season is one that a Dolphin fan can always hang their hat on in a conversation with any NFL fan that might discredit the sanctity of the Dolphins as franchise. Keep in mind, every team that starts a season and continues some type of winning streak without losing is often compared to the Dolphins team that never los;t until that team eventually does and Mercury Morris and fellow 1972 team alums can enjoy some champagne in celebration of their undefeated season decades before.
Keep in mind, the story lines of this Dolphin team, a comeback in week 3 versus the Minnesota Vikings and the Purple People Eaters Defense down two scores before 2 point conversions, or the fake punt versus the Steelers in the AFC championship by Larry Seiple. Or hall of fame coach Don Shula changing the quarterback from Moral (who filled in admirably) back to hall of fame quarterback Bob Griese. This change would probably make Dolphin fans today cringe and get onto a hateful tirade on Twitter before the ball is snapped.
What this film brought to my living room was a sense of pride. This pride serves as retribution for all of the seasons that the Dolphins have failed to win and all of draft and free agent acquisitions that have failed to materialize. This sense of pride brings a sense of belonging on the large NFL stage that is filled with talk of elite quarterbacks, receivers, running backs, and defensive talent, as if that stuff will be important 50 years from now. The most rewarding aspect of this film is the fact that my son, who is almost six ran through the house with his football and stopped to watch and ask me questions about this team and what they did. That in itself is a sign of the passing of the Dolphin fan torch, from one generation to another.