Kuechenberg, standout on 1972 Dolphins, dies
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.