He was Ironman of ’72 Dolphins
MIAMI — Former Dolphins guard Bob Kuechenberg, a sixtime All-Pro and a 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.
Mr. 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 1972 team that went 17-0, and he started 16 games for the 1973 team that repeated as Super Bowl champions.
Mr. Kuechenberg was an eight-time 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. “He was one of the key performers on our championship teams.”
Shula said Mr. 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 Mr. 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, Ind., Mr. Kuechenberg played at Notre Dame before being drafted in the fourth round by the Eagles in 1969 but never played for them and was cut. He signed with the Falcons, but they soon cut him, too. He ended up playing a year for a semipro team in Chicago before the Dolphins signed him in 1970. His 196 games with Miami was a team record until quarterback Dan Marino broke it.
Shula pointed out that Mr. Kuechenberg was penalized for holding only 15 times throughout his a career and only missed four games in his 14 seasons.
Mr. Kuechenberg’s favorite play became the name of his boat: “34 Trap.” He knocked out Baltimore Colts defensive end Bubba Smith running it and hit Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackler Mike Reid so hard that, years later, when they met, Reid said, “Oh my god, there’s the man that hit me so hard I couldn’t fall down.”
Play of the day
Thanks to a snow storm in Kansas City, Mo., a number of people in the area likely had trouble getting around Saturday, including Chiefs offensive lineman Jeff Allen.
Allen made it to Arrowhead Stadium in time for his team’s AFC division playoff game against the Colts thanks to a Good Samaritan named Dave.
Allen was asking for the public’s help in finding Dave, because Allen wants to repay the favor.
The prize for lending a helping hand? Tickets to the AFC Championship Game this week.
Here is what Allen tweeted shortly before midnight:
“My car got stuck in the snow before the game & a nice guy named Dave help pull me out without knowing I was a player. I want to give him tickets to the AFC Championship Game for helping but don’t have a way to contact him. He drove a 97 or 98 Black Suburban. Pls RT #ChiefsKingdom”
Eventually, Allen found his Dave.
“Update: Despite the recent influx in people changing their name to Dave in the KC area lol, I was actually able to track down the Dave that helped me thanks to the power of social media and #ChiefsKindgom. Thanks for your kindness @Davidco59434183”
David Cochran tweeted: “Look all I try to do is survive and live life one day at a time and I love to go all out to try to help ppl” T.O. GOES OFF ON GARRETT: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones might be mulling a contract extension for coach Jason Garrett, but one former player said that if it was his call, he would fire “that sapsucker.”
Terrell Owens tweeted his displeasure with Garrett after Dallas lost 30-22 Saturday to the Rams in an NFC division playoff game. “Hey @realjerryjones! Bout time for a coaching change don’tcha think?! 2 playoff wins in 10 years!! Garrett isn’t the answer & NEVER will be! Way to compete guys!! #realtalk”
Owens, 45, played for the Cowboys when Garrett was offensive coordinator (2007-08). The Hall of Fame receiver said in May that it was “mind-boggling” that Garrett continued to be the coach. “At the end of the day, how can you keep allowing the players to be the scapegoat for what’s not happening, especially when you have a head coach that’s supposed to be offensive-minded?” he said.
Owens was cut in 2009, a move that he said “blindsided” him, and he acknowledged in a Twitter reply that his feelings remain bruised. “Yeh, maybe a little,” he wrote. “That sapsucker got rid of me & had Jerry thinking I was the problem.”
Garrett is 79-62 as coach, a position he has held since 2011, after an eight-game interim stint in 2010. In the postseason, though, his teams are 2-3.
Former Dolphins guard Bob Kuechenberg leads a ceremony honoring the 1972 team that finished the season undefeated. Kuechenberg once played in the Super Bowl with a broken arm.