MIAMI (CBS4) – Miami Dolphins fans were saddened Wednesday to learn that former player, and local radio legend, Jim “Mad Dog” Mandich had lost his battle with cancer.
“It’s a sad day for all of us in South Florida, the passing of Jim “Mad Dog” Mandich. One of the great broadcasters, teammates, humanitarians, big brothers, fathers. You name it,” said former Dolphin Jimmy Cefalo who now hosts a morning show on WIOD.
Mandich, 62, was on the team in 1972 when they had their undefeated season. In recent years he hosted his own sports talk show for years on WQAM and raised money for former Miami Dolphin players who had fallen on hard times.
“He did it by holding a luncheon every Tuesday during the football season in Miami Lakes. And he wouldn’t say what it was for. I didn’t find out into a year into it,” said Cefalo.
Mandich passed away after battling bile duct cancer for two years. Former Dolphin and CBS4 Sports anchor Kim Bokamper said he fought it until the very end.
Legendary Dolphins’ coach Don Shula called the first time he met the “Mad Dog”.
“They said that’s your number two draft choice pulling up. And there was an old Studebaker with flower painted on the side. He came up with long hair and beads on. And I said you? You are the captain of Michigan,” recalled Shula the first time he met Mandich.
Shula said on the field Mandich earned his nickname and became a ‘go to’ player’ in the perfect season.
“Jim was not the fastest, strongest player around, but he was dependable, and that’s the thing I liked about Jim,“ said Shula.
“Jim played football they way he battled cancer. Head on. Never gave any quarter back. I remember the irony playing against him. He wasn’t the biggest guy but he was like a pit bull. Never stopped going after you,” said Bokamper.
“I think the thing to remember best about Jim is his straight forwardness and his brutal honesty,” said former Dolphin and friend Dick Anderson.
Anderson said he saw Mandich over the weekend and he appeared to be very upbeat and positive.
Mandich was drafted by the Dolphins in 1970 out of the University of Michigan. He was an All-American for the Wolverines and played eight seasons with the Dolphins. He’s a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and announced Dolphins games from 1992-2004 and from 2008-2009.
The Miami Dolphins released a statement late Tuesday. It read, in part:
The Miami Dolphin organization mourns the passing of Jim Mandich, a member of the Dolphin family both on and off the field for more than 40 years who left an imprint that was both unique and authentic. He was a popular tight end on the great Dolphin Super Bowl teams in the 1970s, playing for the club from 1970 through 1977. He was a member of two Super Bowl winning squads (1972, 1973), including the Perfect Season team, and three AFC Championship teams. After his playing career ended, Mandich embarked on a successful business and civic career in South Florida and became a beloved member of the Dolphin broadcast team for 17 years.
He is survived by his wife and three sons.