Reporting Tim Kephart
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS4) — Only one team in the history of the National Football League has gone undefeated in the regular season, the playoffs, and then won a Super Bowl, the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
Tuesday, the team received its long over-due trip to the White House to be honored as a champion by the president.
“Today, I’m here to whet everybody’s appetite (for football) to honor the only undefeated…untied team in NFL history to the White House for the very first time; give it up for the 1972 Miami Dolphins,” President Barack Obama said Tuesday.
The ’72 Dolphins didn’t make it to the White House in the months after their Super Bowl victory, when President Nixon — a big sports fan — was immersed in the Watergate scandal.
“I know this is a little unorthodox, four decades after the fact, but these guys never got their White House visit,” President Obama said.
“It’s very special in my mind, that 40 years later somebody thought about it and it wasn’t me,” Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Don Shula told CBS4′s Kim Bokamper.
- Click Here For A Slideshow Of The 72 Dolphins At The White House
The team had a who’s who of Hall of Famers and legendary players including: quarterback Bob Griese, receiver Paul Warfield, fullback Larry Csonka, center Jim Langer, guard Larry Little and linebacker Nick Buoniconti.
“I know some of them are a little harder to recognize these days,” President Obama said in jest. “They don’t have the afros, the mutton chops, the Fu-Man-Chu’s.”
“The first thing I asked, did you send a float plane for Csonka to get him out of Alaska?” said Nick Buoniconti, former Dolphins linebacker.
“I don’t come out of Alaska for much, I like going up there. It’s probably the 19th or 20th year that we’ve done it, but on a special event like this, how can you turn that down,” said Larry Csonka a former Dolphins fullback.
Current Dolphins owner Stephen Ross paid expenses for the ’72 team’s trip. Ross said the entire organization was excited about the invitation.
“The key to the (Super Bowl) victory, I’m told, is that Csonka put an alligator in Coach Shula’s shower,” President Obama said eliciting laughter from everyone involved.
President Obama, a long-time Chicago Bears fan, had also welcomed in the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl winning team after they too were snubbed of a White House visit in 1986.
“I’ve got to come clean, a couple of years ago I hosted the 85 Bears team out on the South lawn. They also missed their chance to have a White House visit,” President Obama said. “That day, I called them the greatest team ever, but take it with a grain of salt.”
Obama continued, “The Bears lost once in their nearly perfect season.”
Shula interrupted saying, “We beat ‘em.”
“Nobody can argue with this record and what all of you have gone on to do,” Obama said after the laughter died down from Shula’s comment.
“These are all men of accomplishment and character and it showed on the field and off the field as well,” Obama said.
Coach Shula and the team then presented President Obama with an autographed jersey with the word Undefeated in the name plate and the number 72 on the jersey.
“Thank you Mr. President,” Coach Shula said. “It’s great to be here and we feel honored. It’s been 40 years, but what the hell, we still feel honored.”
Coach Shula continued to have fun with the president saying, “Even though you were a Bears fan, we understand you gotta root for somebody.”
Shula didn’t let up either saying to plenty of laughter, “This (the autographed jersey) is something we hope you find a good spot for, somewhere in your office, or somewhere that you can look at it and think about that whipping we put on the 85 Bears team.”
Obama took the ribbing in stride and everyone that was in attendance got plenty of good laughs out of the president and Coach Shula.
But, not all of the 1972 Dolphins were at the event. Three players, Jim Langer, Manny Fernandez, and Bub Kuechenberg did not attend the event because they do not like President Obama or his policies.