Members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins – the only team with a perfect season in NFL history – have already taken notice of the 6-0 start by the Philadelphia Eagles.
And it’s still sparking the competitive nature they had when they first accomplished their feat –17-0, including the playoffs – 50 years ago.
“Well, we’re all starting to growl in our beards about it,” Hall of Famer Larry Csonka said Tuesday during a press conference with several members of the 1972 Dolphins.
“It’s a jealously thing. In one capacity, it’s fun. In another capacity, it’s still a competition thing … It makes you feel alive. It makes you feel like you’re part of it again. And that’s a very good thing.”
Every year, members of the ’72 Dolphins team have a champagne toast when the last remaining undefeated team suffers its first loss to look back at their achievements under legendary coach Don Shula.
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With the Eagles on a bye this week, they won’t get to have that moment together during Sunday’s Dolphins-Steelers game, which will commemorate the 1972 AFC title game matchup and the 50th anniversary of their undefeated season.
Still, it hasn’t stopped players like Csonka, Manny Fernandez, Larry Little and others from talking together about this season’s Eagles.
As a bulldozing fullback at heart, Csonka likes how the Eagles control the game offensively behind a steady rushing attack spearheaded by quarterback Jalen Hurts, who is second in the NFL with six rushing touchdowns, while the team leads the league with 13 rushing touchdowns.
It reminds him of “our old, power running game when we went undefeated,” Csonka said. “It gets us old grandpas to sit up in our (antique) chairs and say, ‘Damn,’” Csonka said.
“They look a little reminiscent of something we might have done back then. So, it gets you a little excited and you’re happy about that and you like to watch them. But as they keep going undefeated, you start to think, ‘Wait a minute, here. Why am I applauding?’ These guys are going to dance on our dance floor here shortly.”
The last time the ‘72 Dolphins had a scare their perfect record was going to be tied was in 2007 when Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots finished the regular season undefeated. They lost their first game to Eli Manning and the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII (to finish 18-1).
Csonka said he was so thankful to then-Giants coach Tom Coughlin, whom he played football with at Syracuse, for helping Miami maintain its mark in history.
Csonka also recalled the highlight play of the game when receiver David Tyree made the catch with his helmet to extend the Giants’ game-winning touchdown drive.
“I jumped out of my chair and almost hit my head on an overhead fan, I was so excited,” Csonka said with a smile.
Csonka said he enjoys when the last undefeated team loses its first game around the midseason, or two-thirds mark of the season, so the former Dolphins can continue enjoying their 50-year achievement.
“You’re glad when there’s a team or two that’s undefeated about the six- or seven-game mark. But then around the 10-game mark, you want to see them disappearing faster because you’re very guarded about it,” Csonka said.
“It’s a little frustrating, particularly when you get to the Super Bowl because you know no one can better us, but they can tie us, so you’re rooting heavily against them.”
Csonka and the rest of the ’72 Dolphins will be keeping an eye on the Eagles’ schedule.
“Probably the team that’s the least likely looking at the schedule is the one that’ll do the trick,” Csonka hopes. “That’s how competitive the game is nowadays.”
Still, Csonka appreciates the fact the accomplishment he and his Dolphins teammates achieved gets new life each and every season.
“Each year we come back to life,” Csonka said with a smile. “It’s like the dust blows off us, and we’re up and we’re talking like it’s us against them. But it’s not really us against them, it’s our reputation against them. It gives you the feeling, as you reach ambiguity, you’re still in there and there’s still a competition going on.
“The great thing about it is we don’t have to listen to Shula, and we’re not having two-a-days, but we’re still competing in a minor capacity.”