For­mer Dol­phins great Kuechen­berg dies at 71

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By STEVEN WINE AP Sports Writer

MI­AMI >> For­mer Mi­ami Dol­phins guard Bob Kuechen­berg, a six-time Pro Bowl se­lec­tion and mem­ber of the only NFL team to achieve a per­fect sea­son, died at age 71.

His death Satur­day was con­firmed by the Dol­phins, who had no fur­ther de­tails.

Kuechen­berg joined the Dol­phins as a free agent in 1970, coach Don Shula’s first sea­son, and played for them un­til 1983. He started ev­ery game for the team that went 17-0 in 1972, and started 16 games for the team that re­peated as Su­per Bowl cham­pi­ons in 1973.

Kuechen­berg was a fi­nal­ist for the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame and a mem­ber of the Dol­phins’ Honor Roll.

“I was sorry to learn of the pass­ing of Bob Kuechen­berg, who was not only one of the best play­ers I ever coached but one of the tough­est as well,” Shula said in a state­ment. “He was one of the key per­form­ers on our cham­pi­onship teams.”

Shula said Kuechen­berg played with a bro­ken arm in the 1974 Su­per Bowl and still dom­i­nated Hall of Fame de­fen­sive tackle Alan Page as Mi­ami beat Min­nesota 24-7. That game was 45 years ago Sun­day.

For­mer team­mate Jim Langer, a Hall of Fame cen­ter, said he stayed in touch with Kuechen­berg, spoke with him in the past week and was shocked to learn of his death.

“He was the kind of guy you’d want in your fox­hole,” Langer said. “He played hard and was very in­tense about the game, which was typ­i­cal of our team. He was my room­mate for 10 years, and we talked foot­ball damn near all the time.”

A na­tive of Gary, In­di­ana, Kuechen­berg played at Notre Dame be­fore be­ing drafted by the Philadel­phia Ea­gles in 1969 but never played for them. Kuechen­berg’s 196 games with the Dol­phins was a team record un­til Dan Marino broke it.

LYNNE SLADKY - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In this 2007, file photo, play­ers from the 1972 Mi­ami Dol­phins team, in­clud­ing guard Bob Kuechen­berg (67) and de­fen­sive tackle Bob Heinz (72), walk off the stage fol­low­ing a cer­e­mony hon­or­ing the team at a game against the Bal­ti­more Ravens at Dol­phin Sta­dium in Mi­ami.

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