On Monday, the members of the undefeated Miami Dolphins team from 1972 finally got the chance to visit the White House and were honored by President Barack Obama.
In 1972, Super Bowl champions weren't invited to the White House, so the team never made the trip. But in recognition of their undefeated season, they were finally invited this year.
Jeff Darlington of NFL.com captured the President at the podium with the team behind him:
President Obama is in the house with the 1972 Miami Dolphins! pic.twitter.com/MHZ2heKlEk— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) August 20, 2013
And per Darlington, the President also joked about why he finally invited the 1972 team:
Obama on why the White House is honoring the 1972 Dolphins after all these years: "I want to be the young guy up here for once!"— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) August 20, 2013
Cindy Boren of The Washington Post summarized a large portion of President Obama's speech:
President Obama opened with the words, “It’s mid-August … that means football is in the air.”
With that, he requested a crowd that was a little more raucous than usual at these White House events to “give it up” for the undefeated, untied 1972 Miami Dolphins.” He admitted that it’s “unorthodox” to invite a team so much later for a visit and that so many former players and coaches have changed, now minus “the Afros, the muttonchops and the Fu Manchus.”
Obama, turning serious, noted that the 1972 Dolphins were “a juggernaut” known for a grinding running game, two 2,000 rushers and three shutouts. It was a team that doubled opponents’ scores eight times and “did most of it after” quarterback Bob Griese broke his leg in Week 5. He was replaced, Obama noted, by Earl Morrall, quoting a teammate who said, “He couldn’t run and he couldn’t throw, but he could win.” The Dolphins, Obama said, “did that again and again and again.”
The finest moment of the ceremony came when the President admitted he had the 1985 Chicago Bears to visit and lamented their one loss that season. That prompted Don Shula, the head coach of the 1972 team, to poke fun at the President and his favorite team, via Darlington:
Classic moment as Obama tries to say his Bears almost went undefeated but only lost one game. Shula interrupts Obama: "Who beat 'em?!" Ha!— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) August 20, 2013
Shula in rare form! He presents Obama with jersey and says he hopes President can find a good place for it to remind him of 1985 "whooping."— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) August 20, 2013
The Bears went 15-1 in 1985. The one loss?
To the Dolphins, of course.
In all, it was a nice moment for the NFL's annual only undefeated team, as Rich Eisen of the NFL Network noted:
Watching the '72 Dolphins honored at White House now after never having been. These guys look so happy and pleased. They deserve it!— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) August 20, 2013
And as is to be expected, the team took plenty of pictures of the experience, including Shula himself, as he posted on Twitter:
Up close in the East Room for the ceremony pic.twitter.com/Mr7galLfJd— Don Shula (@DonShula) August 20, 2013
The team also caught a few cool moments from the day on Instagram:
And it doesn't get much cooler than this:
Of course, as always seems to be the case, a few members of the '72 Dolphins squad chose not to attend the festivities on account of political differences with the President. According to Dave Hyde of the Sun Sentinel, Bob Kuechenberg, Jim Langer and Manny Fernandez all decided to skip the trip.
That is their right, of course, but sometimes it could be neat if people could rise above political differences and recognize what an honor it is to meet the President of the United States of America, no matter who that man (or woman, someday) happens to be.
To each their own.
Still, the majority of the team was there, and seemed quite excited to be as they headed to meet the President. Here's the group in the bus on the way to the White House.
No doubt, this was a cool day for a group of men that achieved perfection in that fateful season. Now, if only they could stop reminding us all about it every season when the final undefeated team loses by popping bottles of champagne...