Kuechen­berg, stand­out on 1972 Dol­phins, dies

The Washington Post - - SPORTS -

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.”

Over his 15 sea­sons, Kuechen­berg started in Mi­ami’s first four Su­per Bowls, made the Pro Bowl six times and was first or sec­ond team all-pro three times.

The 1970s Dol­phins of­fen­sive line was the first to block for two 1,000-yard rush­ers in a sin­gle sea­son (Mer­cury Mor­ris and Larry Csonka on the un­beaten 1972 Su­per Bowl cham­pi­ons).

Shula said Kuechen­berg played with a bro­ken arm in Su­per Bowl VIII in Jan­uary 1974 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, Ind., 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.

OF­FI­CIALS: Sarah Thomas be­came the first woman to work an NFL play­off game as an on-field of­fi­cial.

Thomas was the down judge in Sun­day’s di­vi­sional-round game be­tween New Eng­land and the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers in Foxbor­ough, Mass. That’s a first, ac­cord­ing to the NFL’s Twit­ter ac­count.

Thomas was hired in 2015 and al­ready was the league’s first fe­male full-time of­fi­cial.

Terri Valenti was the re­play of­fi­cial in Satur­day’s play­off game be­tween the Chiefs and Colts, also a first.

CHARG­ERS: The daugh­ter of Charg­ers de­fen­sive line­man Bran­don Mebane was re­mem­bered be­fore Los An­ge­les’s play­off game at New Eng­land.

The Pa­tri­ots asked fans to stand and ob­serve a mo­ment of si­lence for Makenna Mebane, who died Jan. 3 at the age of 7 weeks. She was born with a rare ge­netic con­di­tion known as Tri­somy 13 that causes de­lays in de­vel­op­ment and af­fects sev­eral or­gans.

Bran­don Mebane had missed five of the past seven games, in­clud­ing last week’s first-round game at Bal­ti­more, to be with his fam­ily. He was ac­tive Sun­day.

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