Where Are the 1972 Miami Dolphins Now?
The NFL celebrated its 100th season in 2019, and through the first 100 seasons, only one team can call itself perfect. The 1972 Miami Dolphins. No ties. No losses. Just perfection.
There might have been better, or even more memorable, teams than those Dolphins, but nobody can argue with 14-0 in the regular season and 3-0 in the postseason.
The '72 Dolphins are one of the most iconic teams in all of sports, and you can still hear the champagne popping whenever the final undefeated NFL team loses each season.
Many players and coaches helped the Dolphins achieve glory, and in football retirement, some of them even exceeded their success on the gridiron.
This is where the stars of the only perfect team in NFL history are now.
Related:Don Shula's Legendary Career in Photos
Bob Griese, Quarterback
NFL experience: 14 years, all with Dolphins (1967-80)
Career stats: 1,926 CMP, 3,429 ATT, 25,092 YDS, 192 TD, 172 INT, 77.1 RAT
1972 stats: 53 CMP, 97 ATT, 638 YDS, 4 TD, 4 INT, 71.6 RAT
1972 postseason stats: 11 CMP, 16 ATT, 158 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT, 95.3 RAT
Bottom line: The 1972 Dolphins were much more than a collection of talented individuals. They were a great "team." How great? Their Hall of Fame quarterback missed eight weeks in the middle of the season, yet they still remained perfect.
Bob Griese broke his leg and ankle on a tackle by Deacon Jones in Week 5, and Griese didn't return to the starting lineup until the Super Bowl. Thus, he posted career lows in all of the major statistics as backup Earl Morrall was the primary starter.
To also illustrate how much the game has changed, Griese threw for 88 yards in the Super Bowl as the Dolphins relied on the run game.
Since retiring from the NFL in 1980, Griese has dabbled in real estate and splits his time between South Florida and North Carolina. He also took up broadcasting a year after leaving the game and currently calls games for Dolphins radio broadcasts alongside former teammate Jimmy Cefalo.
Football and broadcasting run through the Griese blood as Bob’s son, Brian, was also a longtime NFL quarterback and currently is a broadcaster for ESPN.
Earl Morrall, Quarterback
NFL experience: 21 years (1956-76)
Years with Dolphins: 5 years (1972-76)
Career stats: 1,379 CMP, 2,689 ATT, 20,809 YDS, 161 TD, 148 INT, 74.1 RAT
1972 stats: 83 CMP, 150 ATT, 1,360 YDS, 11 TD, 7 INT, 97.1 RAT
1972 postseason stats: 13 CMP, 24 ATT, 139 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT, 67.9 RAT
Bottom line: Some 45 years before Nick Foles went from backup to Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Earl Morrall nearly did the same.
Morrall replaced an injured Bob Griese in Week 5 of the 1972 season and reeled off 11 straight wins all the way to the Super Bowl. Morrall led the NFL in passer rating that season despite being the third-oldest player in the league at 38 years old.
Morrall was replaced in the second half of the AFC championship game, and Griese took back the reins in the Super Bowl, but the Dolphins never would have even gotten to that point without Morrall filling in.
Morrall remained a vital part of Miami’s sports and political scenes after his retirement from the Dolphins. He was the quarterback coach at the University of Miami where he groomed Jim Kelly and Vinny Testaverde among others. He then went into politics and became mayor of Davie, Florida, which is where the Dolphins' training facility resides.
Morrall died in 2014 at the age of 79 due to complications from Parkinson’s disease, and it was later revealed that he was suffering from the most severe form of CTE.
Mercury Morris, Running Back
NFL experience: 8 years (1969-76)
Years with Dolphins: 7 years (1969-75)
Career stats: 804 ATT, 4,133 YDS, 5.1 AVG, 31 TD, 54 REC, 543 RYDS, 1 RTD
1972 stats: 190 ATT, 1000 YDS, 5.3 AVG, 12 TD, 15 REC, 168 RYDS, 0 RTD
1972 postseason stats: 41 ATT, 182 YDS, 4.4 AVG, 0 TD, 1 REC, -6 RYDS, 0 RTD
Bottom line: After impressing for three seasons as a backup, Mercury Morris was promoted to starting halfback in 1972 and led the NFL in rushing touchdowns. He also ran for 1,000 yards, but not without some controversy.
It was believed that Morris had run for 991 yards, but the Dolphins petitioned the NFL to overturn a -9-yard rushing play and rule it a fumble on a lateral instead. The NFL obliged, and Morris, along with fullback Larry Csonka, became the NFL’s first 1000-yard tandem.
Morris is now a motivational speaker, but he doesn’t talk that much about football. Instead, he discusses the harrowing ordeal he went through after retiring.
Morris was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 1982 due to cocaine trafficking. After serving three years in a jail cell that was in the shadow of the Orange Bowl, Morris was granted a new trial due to entrapment and reached a plea deal, which got him out of prison.
Larry Csonka, Fullback
NFL experience: 11 years (1968-74, 1976-79)
Years with Dolphins: 8 years (1968-74, 1979)
Career stats: 1,891 ATT, 8,081 YDS, 4.3 AVG, 64 TD, 106 REC, 820 RYDS, 4 RTD
1972 stats: 213 ATT, 1,117 YDS, 5.2 AVG, 6 TD, 5 REC, 48 RYDS, 0 RTD
1972 postseason stats: 51 ATT, 212 YDS, 4.2 AVG, 0 TD, 2 REC, 8 RYDS, 1 RTD
Bottom line: Back when teams had two-back backfields, fullbacks were still in vogue, and Larry Csonka was the best of his era. He had a career high in rushing yards in 1972 as the Dolphins, as a team, set the league’s single-season rushing mark.
Against the Redskins in the Super Bowl, Csonka led all players with 112 rushing yards and was in the running to be named MVP until safety Jake Scott picked off his second pass of the game in the fourth quarter.
Csonka was born in Ohio and spent his entire college and pro career either in Miami or New York, but he had the itch to move to Alaska in retirement and lives there today. He hosts many outdoors and hunting-based shows in addition to running a seafood restaurant in the Orlando, Florida, area.
Like his backfield mate, Mercury Morris, Csonka also is a motivational speaker, who's available for personal appearances.
Jim Kiick, Running Back
NFL experience: 9 years (1968-74, 1976-77)
Years with Dolphins: 7 years (1968-74)
Career stats: 1,029 ATT, 3,759 YDS, 3.7 AVG, 29 TD, 233 REC, 2,302 RYDS, 4 RTD
1972 stats: 137 ATT, 521 YDS, 3.8 AVG, 5 TD, 21 REC, 147 RYDS, 1 RTD
1972 postseason stats: 34 ATT, 100 YDS, 2.9 AVG, 4 TD, 3 REC, 11 RYDS, 0 RTD
Bottom line: After being a two-time Pro Bowler early in his career, Jim Kiick had settled into his role as the backup running back and third-down back for the Dolphins by 1972. He was third on the team in rushing but also finished second with 21 receptions.
He became a touchdown vulture by the time the playoffs rolled around and scored four of the Dolphins’ seven touchdowns in the postseason.
Kiick has been living in a South Florida assisted living facility since 2016 after displaying erratic behavior for several years. He was diagnosed with dementia and when his family reached out to the NFL for help, they constantly got the runaround.
Kiick is part of the league's $1 billion concussion settlement, which could result in a payout as high as $620,000, but the family’s journey to that point has been costly in its own right.
Kiick’s daughter is pro tennis player Allie Kiick, who has advanced as far as the third round of the French Open.
Paul Warfield, Wide Receiver
NFL experience: 13 years (1964-74, 1976-77)
Years with Dolphins: 5 years (1970-74)
Career stats: 427 REC, 8,565 RYDS, 20.1 AVG, 85 TD
1972 stats: 29 REC, 606 RYDS, 20.9 AVG, 3 TD
1972 postseason stats: 7 REC, 149 RYDS, 21.3 AVG, 0 TD
Bottom line: The '72 Dolphins, with backup Earl Morrall at quarterback for most of the season, were not a pass-heavy team. They attempted the third-fewest passes in the league, but Paul Warfield was their clear No. 1 option and one of the league’s best deep threats.
1972 was the seventh consecutive season that Warfield averaged at least 20 yards per reception, and he caught three of the team’s seven completions in the Super Bowl.
Warfield, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983, is one of the oldest living members from that '72 team and has been enjoying retirement in Southern California for the past few years. Still an athlete, the 76-year-old is trying his hand at master’s golf as the competitive bug never escaped him.
Before heading west, Warfield returned to his native Ohio and was Browns owner Art Modell’s special assistant in addition to serving as the team’s director of player relations.
Howard Twilley, Wide Receiver
NFL experience: 11 years (1966-76)
Career stats: 212 REC, 3,064 RYDS, 14.5 AVG, 23 TD
1972 stats: 20 REC, 364 RYDS, 18.2 AVG, 3 TD
1972 postseason stats: 4 REC, 61 YDS, 15.3 AVG, 1 TD
Bottom line: Howard Twilley took a backseat to Paul Warfield during most of the season, but he had the spotlight on him in the Super Bowl.
Twilley scored the first points of the game on a 28-yard touchdown reception that gave the Dolphins a lead they never relinquished. It was his only catch of the game and the most important in his 11-year NFL career.
Twilley has battled health scares in recent years, including lymphoma, and underwent a chemotherapy program. That followed a successful business career of owning 30 The Athlete’s Foot sporting good stores throughout the country.
Twilley last worked as a financial consultant for Merrill Lynch in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he went to college.
Marv Fleming,: Tight End
NFL experience: 12 years (1963-74)
Years with Dolphins: 5 years (1970-74)
Career stats: 157 REC, 1,823 RYDS, 11.6 AVG, 16 TD
1972 stats: 13 REC, 137 RYDS, 10.5 AVG, 2 TD
1972 postseason stats: 5 REC, 50 YDS, 10.0 AVG, 0 TD
Bottom line: Marv Fleming already had three NFL championship rings to his name, courtesy of the Green Bay Packers, before he joined the Dolphins. He was more of a blocker than a receiver and ranked just seventh on the team in receiving yards despite starting all 14 games.
Fleming had his best game of the season in the AFC championship game, posting 50 receiving yards, more yards than he had in his previous seven games combined.
Even though he’s in his late 70s, Fleming is still a kid at heart and even enjoys skateboarding near his home near Venice Beach, California. Outside of that, he says he plays golf about three times a week and does word puzzles to keep his mind sharp.
Like many of his 1972 teammates, Fleming also dabbled in real estate once his playing days were over.
Bob Kuechenberg, Left guard
NFL experience: 14 years, all with Dolphins (1970-83)
Bottom line: Even though he was a great player and a six-time Pro Bowler, Bob Kuechenberg’s legacy was sometimes overshadowed by his mouth and the controversial comments he made.
In 2006, he said the current Dolphins "do not have a soul" after a sluggish start to the season and said then-coach Nick Saban should be impeached. Many of the Dolphins players on that team then hit back at Kuechenberg, including team leaders Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas.
Kuechenberg also was one of the few players from the ’72 team who refused an invitation from Barack Obama to visit the White House, and he acknowledged it was due to political reasons.
Kuechenberg died in January 2019 at the age of 71.
Jim Langer, Center
NFL experience: 12 years (1970-81)
Years with Dolphins: 10 years (1970-79)
Bottom line: A converted linebacker, Jim Langer became a starter in the 1972 season and never looked back. He played every offensive snap during the championship season, and his quickness after snapping the ball allowed him to get to the second level and provide more rushing lanes.
Langer, a native of Minnesota, returned to his home state at the end of his career to play for the Vikings, and he still resides just outside of Minneapolis. He admittedly doesn’t do much these days at 71 years old but enjoys time with his seven grandchildren.
Before settling into retirement, Langer worked in the truck accessory business and was a radio analyst for St. Cloud football.
Larry Little, Right Guard
NFL experience: 14 years (1967-80)
Years with Dolphins: 12 years (1969-80)
Bottom line: In 1972, the Dolphins became the first team in NFL history to have two 1,000 yard rushers, but Larry Little was the only offensive lineman to be rewarded as an All-Pro.
One publication even named him as the most outstanding blocker in the entire league, and Don Shula praised Little for not only his play but his influence on younger teammates.
After retirement, Little coached football in the 1980s and 1990s as the head coach at Bethune-Cookman University, his alma mater, and North Carolina Central and in the World Football League for the Ohio Glory.
In 2017, at the age of 71, and 37 years after his last NFL game, Little signed a ceremonial one-day contract with the Dolphins to officially retire as a member of the team. That followed him being inducted into his high school’s Hall of Fame, in Miami. If those weren’t enough honors, Little recently received his honorary doctorate from Bethune-Cookman.
Outside of academic and athletic recognition, Little is involved with his foundation, which raises funds to help children learn to swim.
Vern Den Herder, Defensive End
NFL experience: 12 years (1971-82)
Career stats: 14 FR, 1 INT, 0 TD
1972 stats: 1 FR, 1 INT, 0 TD
1972 postseason stats: 0.5 SACK, 0 FR
Bottom line: The NFL didn’t officially record sacks until 1982, but Den Herder unofficially led the Dolphins with 10.5 sacks in the 1972 season. He was in his second NFL season when the Dolphins struck perfection, and he was the youngest starter on the team at the age of 23.
A former basketball player, the 6-foot-6 Den Herder disrupted the passing game with more than sacks, often wreaking havoc by batting passes at the line of scrimmage.
An unabashed country boy, Den Herder retired back to his farm in his hometown of Sioux City, Iowa. His specialty is corn and soybeans, and farming has replaced football as Den Herder’s passion.
That was evident in 2013 when President Obama invited the '72 Dolphins to the White House. Van Herder was unable to attend the ceremony because it was harvest season, and he had crops to attend to.
Bob Heinz, Defensive Tackle
NFL experience: 9 years (1969-74, 1976-78)
Years with Dolphins: 8 years (1969-74, 1976-77)
Career stats: 1 FR, 0 INT, 0 TD
1972 stats: 0 FR, 0 INT, 0 TD
1972 postseason stats: 0 SACK, 0 FR
Bottom line: At 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds, Bob Heinz was the biggest player on Miami’s "No-Name" defense, and he helped plug the rushing lanes for the NFL’s top defense. He started just eight games during the regular season but was a constant presence in the playoffs, starting all three postseason games.
Heinz grew up in the Bay Area and returned there after retiring. He became an advertising executive in Palo Alto and had kept a relatively low profile until 2015, when Heinz became the first player from the '72 Dolphins to auction away his Super Bowl ring from that year.
No reason was given why Heinz sold the ring, but it went for $68,004.
Bill Stanfill, Defensive End
NFL experience: 8 years, all with Dolphins (1969-76)
Career stats: 8 FR, 2 INT, 2 TD
1972 stats: 2 FR, 0 INT, 0 TD
1972 postseason stats: 3.5 SACK, 0 FR
Bottom line: The only starter on the '72 Dolphins defense that was a first-round pick, Bill Stanfill also was one of two first-team All-Pros on the defense. He unofficially had 10 sacks that season and another 3.5 sacks in the postseason.
He put his signature on Super Bowl VII by recording a sack on the final play of the game, taking down Redskins quarterback Billy Kilmer as Washington was looking to tie the game.
Stanfill retired back to his native Georgia, where he owned a hotel and worked in real estate. He suffered from numerous health ailments after his playing days and had three surgeries to fuse vertebrae in his spine.
In 2016, Stanfill had a bad fall, and complications arose, which led to his death at 69.
Doug Swift, Outside Linebacker
NFL experience: 6 years, all with Dolphins (1970-75)
Career stats: 4 FR, 5 INT, 0 TD
1972 stats: 1 FR, 3 INT, 0 TD
1972 postseason stats: 2 INT, 0 FR
Bottom line: Doug Swift was the Dolphins' biggest playmaker among their linebacker group, and he finished tied for second on the team with three interceptions. He recorded another two picks in the postseason with both coming in the divisional playoffs against the Browns.
Coach Don Shula praised Swift as "one of the smartest guys we had."
Swift made a career change a couple of years after that perfect season and walked away from the game at 27. He chose to follow the career path of his parents and went to medical school.
He became an anesthesiologist and works for Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, the earliest established public hospital in the United States.
Nick Buoniconti, Middle Linebacker
NFL experience: 14 years (1962-74, 1976)
Years with Dolphins: 7 years (1969-74, 1976)
Career stats: 6 FR, 32 INT, 2 TD
1972 stats: 0 FR, 2 INT, 0 TD
1972 postseason stats: 2 INT, 0 FR
Bottom line: The '72 Dolphins defense was dubbed the "No-Name" defense, but Nick Buoniconti was the biggest name on that unit. At 32 years old, he was the oldest starter on defense and the only one who made the Hall of Fame.
Tackles were not officially tracked back then, but Buoniconti unofficially had 162 tackles, a then-team record.
After retiring, Buoniconti worked as an attorney and had a successful career as a sports agent and even represented Miami native and NL MVP Andre Dawson.
Buoniconti died in July 2019 at the age of 78 in Bridgehampton, New York, after suffering from health problems, including dementia and CTE. He said he made a mistake in starting tackle football at 9 years old and joined an initiative for tackle football to be banned for those under 14 years old.
Before his death, Buoniconti pledged to donate his brain to Boston University for CTE research.
Tim Foley, Cornerback
NFL experience: 11 years, all with Dolphins (1970-80)
Career stats: 8 FR, 22 INT, 0 TD
1972 stats: 0 FR, 3 INT, 0 TD
1972 postseason stats: 0 INT, 0 FR
Bottom line: Tim Foley had a bittersweet 1972 season despite it ending with a Super Bowl victory. He started all 14 regular-season games and both games in the AFC playoffs. But he was hurt when the Super Bowl came around and didn’t suit up.
Foley, who later went into broadcasting, got an early start on his second career by interviewing Redskins players before his Dolphins faced them in the game, much to the chagrin of Redskins coach George Allen.
Foley is one of the few players from the '72 Dolphins who had more success, and made more money, after playing than during playing. He started working for Amway and worked his way up to owning a distributorship in the Orlando area.
He became a multi-millionaire from his post-football career, and his earnings dwarfed what he earned during his 11-year playing career.
Jake Scott, Safety
NFL experience: 9 years (1970-78)
Years with Dolphins: 6 years (1970-75)
Career stats: 13 FR, 49 INT, 0 TD
1972 stats: 2 FR, 5 INT, 0 TD
1972 postseason stats: 2 INT, 0 FR
Bottom line: Jake Scott led the '72 Dolphins in interceptions during the regular season and his penchant for picking off quarterbacks continued in the postseason.
He tied a Super Bowl record by picking off two passes in the big game, and his 63 interception return yards also were a Super Bowl record. He was the second defensive player to be named Super Bowl MVP, and he is still just one of two safeties to win the award.
Scott has remained out of the public eye for the most part since hanging up the cleats following the 1978 season. He has shunned many anniversary celebrations for the '72 Dolphins team as well as celebrations honoring Super Bowl MVPs.
Those who do keep in contact with him says he splits his time between Key West, Florida, and Hawaii and works as an investor.
Dick Anderson, Safety
NFL experience: 9 years, all with Dolphins (1968-74, 1976-77)
Career stats: 16 FR, 34 INT, 4 TD
1972 stats: 5 FR, 3 INT, 1 TD
1972 postseason stats: 2 INT, 1 FR
Bottom line: Dick Anderson always seemed to be around the ball during the 1972 season and finished second in the NFL with eight takeaways. He also served as the team’s emergency punter and had four punts during the regular season, averaging 36.8 yards, just three yards fewer than the team’s regular punter.
In Super Bowl VII, Anderson’s biggest play came on special teams as he recovered a teammate’s muffed punt, and Miami went on to score a touchdown on the ensuing drive.
Anderson was so popular as a player that after retiring in 1978, he was immediately elected to the Senate in Florida. He then became the senior vice president of a telecommunications company that is now known as TracFone Wireless.
Anderson is currently the president of his own insurance company, Anderson Insurance Group, which he started back during his playing days.
Garo Yepremian, Kicker
NFL experience: 14 years (1966-67, 1970-81)
Years with Dolphins: 9 years (1970-78)
Career stats: 165 FGA, 242 FGA, 68.2 FG%
1972 stats: 24 FGM, 37 FGA, 64.9 FG%
1972 postseason stats: 7 FGM, 7 FGA, 100 FG%
Bottom line: The perfect season almost ended perfectly until Garo Yepremian got in trouble for trying to do too much.
With the Dolphins leading 14-0 with two minutes left in the Super Bowl, they attempted a field goal to essentially end the game. But the attempt was blocked, and Yepremian picked the ball up and tried to throw a pass instead of just falling to the ground.
The ball was too big for the 5-foot-7 Yepremian, and it slipped out of his hands and right to a Redskins defender. That player then returned the fumble for Washington's only score of the game.
Yepremian, who was born in Cyprus to Armenian parents, was a motivational speaker after retiring. He and his wife formed a foundation for brain tumor research in 2001 after their daughter-in-law was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.
Almost 15 years later, Yepremian himself was diagnosed with multiple brain tumors and neuroendocrine cancer.
He died from the disease in 2015 at the age of 70.
Don Shula, Head Coach
NFL experience: 33 years (1963-95)
Years with Dolphins: 26 years (1970-95)
Career record: 328-156-6
1972 record: 14-0
1972 postseason record: 3-0
Bottom line: The origin of the greatest season in NFL history started with the Dolphins’ only loss during the calendar year of 1972. The team was blown out by the Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl of the 1971 season, which came in January of 1972, and Don Shula went to extreme measures to make sure that didn’t happen again.
At training camp in 1972, he made his team watch the entire Super Bowl twice and years later said, "What I stressed in the locker room was that we wanted to make sure this wouldn’t happen again. Our goal was not to go to the Super Bowl but to win it.”
Shula coached the only perfect season in NFL history and is the all-time winningest coach in league history. The legendary coaches died on May 4, 2020, at the age of 90, but he was just as successful in retirement as he was in football.
He owned a chain of steakhouses called Shula’s Restaurants that started in South Florida but were expanded into several other states. The chain had 22 restaurants across the United States, including in Shula’s home state of Ohio.
It is also in Ohio where Shula has an endowment in his name at his alma mater, John Carroll University. Shula studied philosophy as an undergraduate, and The Don Shula Chair in Philosophy supports the university’s philosophy department by presenting programs to philosophers and the general public.
Related:Don Shula's Legendary Career in Photos