When the Dolphins grabbed Scott in the seventh round of the 1970 draft, Miami player personnel director Joe Thomas proclaimed the team had gotten first-round talent for seventh-round cash. Scott had been an All-American player who is now on the 50th Anniversary All-Time SEC Team.
Scott came in from one season with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. He left the University of Georgia as a junior because Vince Dooley had brokered a deal for his team to play in the Sugar Bowl, a lesser game at the time, despite the Bulldog players having voted to play in the Orange Bowl.
Dooley had long called Scott the greatest athlete he ever coached, which includes men like Herschel Walker, but their disagreement led Scott to decline induction into the College Football Hall of Fame because Dooley was involved. Scott joined the Dolphins despite making $10,000 less than he had made in the CFL.
He started right away at free safety and returned punts full time with the team. He picked off five balls for a career-long 112 yards while returning 27 punts. He took one ball 77 yards for a touchdown
The Dolphins' safety tandem of Scott and Dick Anderson was quickly becoming the best in the NFL. Both were supremely intelligent and athletic, capable of playing either safety slot at a Pro-Bowl level.
This versatility gave Miami an advantage few teams have ever enjoyed in NFL history. The 1971 season saw Scott lead the NFL in punt return yards, getting 318 on 33 returns.
He also intercepted seven balls, which led the team and helped Scott earn his first of five consecutive Pro Bowl nods. The Dolphins would get all the way to the Super Bowl that year before losing to the Dallas Cowboys.
He severely broke his left hand on the helmet of Kansas City Chiefs fullback Jim Otis in the 1971 AFC Championship Game, then he would break his right wrist early in Super Bowl VI.
This led to both hands in heavy casts and the famous Scott quip, "Now I find out who my real friends are when I go to the bathroom."
The Dolphins' 1972 season was one that all teams head into striving for, but only this team actually accomplished. They led the NFL in both offense and defense while going undefeated the entire year. Scott returned less punts that year because Charlie Leigh took most of the attempts.
Miami also had Scott playing strong safety often, and it led to five interceptions. He hurt his shoulder so bad, that heading into Super Bowl VII, prognosticators favored the Washington Redskins because the word was that Scott would be unable to play.
Not only was he able to play, but Scott became the first defensive back, and just second defensive player, to ever be named Super Bowl MVP.
In a defensive battle where ball possession reigned supreme, the Dolphins outlasted Washington 14-7 in the lowest scoring game in Super Bowl history. Scott intercepted a pass on the Redskins' first possession, then picked off a second in a crucial moment in the fourth quarter.
On a Billy Kilmer pass intended for Hall of Fame wide receiver Charley Taylor, Scott picked off the ball in the end zone and took it 55 yards.That would set up the famous "Garo's Gaffe," when Dolphins' kicker Garo Yepremian would throw an interception that resulted in the Redskins only points.
Miami would reach their third consecutive Super Bowl in 1973, a year that saw Scott named First Team All-Pro on a defense that gave up only 10.7 points per game all season. Scott handled the return duties in Super Bowl VIII and recovered two fumbles in the Dolphins 24-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
When Dolphin legends Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield bolted for the fledgling World Football League in 1974, Scott bluffed Miami by saying he also had an offer. The Dolphins quickly signed him to a five-year contract for $600,000, making him the first defensive back in NFL history to make at least $100,000 per season.
He rewarded Miami by intercepting a career-best eight passes, earning his second First Team All-Pro honors while playing most of the year at free safety. He also returned 31 punts for 346 yards. He was named NFL Defensive Back of the Year by Football Digest.
Scott and Dolphins head coach Don Shula were so close that Shula's son wore Scott's jersey number when playing football because Scott was his hero.
When the Dolphins brilliant defensive coordinator, Bill Arnsparger, left Miami after the 1973 season to become head coach of the New York Giants, several Dolphins defenders, including Scott, were unhappy that Vince Costello was chosen as the replacement.
Costello was replaced by Don Doll after one year. Playing under Doll, he enjoyed his final Pro Bowl seasons in 1975 after six interceptions. Rookie wide receiver Freddie Soloman handled the punt return duties instead of Scott that season.
One practice in 1974 had Scott telling Costello he didn't know what he was talking about. When Shula interjected, the pair had words. This carried over into 1976, when Shula wanted Scott to play a preseason game even though the safety said his shoulder was hurting too much.
When Scott refused to shoot pain-killing medicine into his shoulder, the coach and safety argued so much that Scott was quickly traded to the Washington Redskins for safety Bryan Salter. Salter lasted six games with Miami before calling it a career after one more game as a Baltimore Colt that season.
Scott lasted three years with the Redskins, starting in every game that he played and missing only two games. Though Washington had him return three punts in 1976, those duties were primarily given to Pro Bowler Eddie Brown.
In his three years with Washington, Scott picked off 14 passes. He had a career-best five fumble recoveries in his first year, then picked off seven and retired at the end of the 1978 season.
He is the Dolphins all-time leader in interceptions, punt returns, and punt return yards. Scott is a member of the Dolphins Honor Roll as both an individual and member of the 1972 team.
He is definitely the greatest free safety in team history. He might not yet be inducted into Canton, but his 49 interceptions, punt return prowess and overall excellence say he surely belongs.
Brock Marion, Lyle Blackwood, Willie West, and Louis Oliver deserve mention.