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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — Legendary Miami Herald sports columnist Edwin Pope, who covered the first 47 Super Bowls and spent more than 50 years with paper, has died at 88.

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Managing Editor Rick Hirsch says Pope, who had battled cancer, died Thursday in Okeechobee, where he lived in retirement.

Pope went into the newspaper business at age 11, was a sports editor at 15 and joined the Herald in 1956. He covered the Miami Dolphins from their first season and recommended Don Shula for their head coaching job in 1970, a suggestion that transformed the franchise.

On Friday, the Miami Dolphins issued the following statement:

Simply put, Edwin Pope was a giant in the South Florida landscape. In an era before talk radio and social media, he was the conscience and the voice of sports fans throughout Miami for over a half century.

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For generations, it became a daily ritual to wake up in the morning and immediately turn to Edwin’s column in the Herald to get his take on the latest developments in the sports world. Whether he doled out criticism or praise, he did so fairly while offering his thoughts to the legions of his readers.

An unabashed civic booster, Edwin even played a huge role in Dolphins history, suggesting to team owner Joe Robbie that he should consider hiring a young coach in Baltimore to replace George Wilson by the name of Don Shula.

The South Florida community lost one of its greatest citizens. We want to express our condolences to his wife Eileen and the rest of his family.

In 1989, Pope became the youngest winner of the Red Smith Award, given for lifetime achievement in sports journalism. He was a member of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame and the Florida Sports Hall of Fame.

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