Some things have changed for the Perfect Season Miami Dolphins. The famous champagne toast some members of the team famously drink every year to celebrate remaining the NFL’s only undefeated team has sort of faded with time.
“We don’t drink champagne,” Mercury Morris, a 1,000-yard rusher on the 1972 team said.
“Well, in all honesty, it’s really kind of a myth now,” Dick Anderson, the ’72 team’s perennial Pro Bowl safety said Tuesday. “It started with Nick Buoniconti and Bob Griese and I. We lived on the same street. And unfortunately, Griese moved further north and Nick passed away so … We don’t have an opportunity to do that anymore.
“We usually call each other and say, ‘Tip the glass.’ “
Perfect Season Dolphins Undefeated, Untied
The champagne celebration gathering was tradition when the NFL’s last unbeaten team went down in defeat. The Philadelphia Eagles, the last unbeaten team remaining this season, lost their first game Monday night — a 32-21 Washington Commanders victory.
That means the 1972 Dolphins remain unique in NFL history.
Still undefeated. Still untied. Still the only ones.
“I knew it wasn’t going to happen this year,” said Pro Football Hall of Fame guard Larry Little. “I knew the Eagles are a good football team, but I didn’t see them being a team that could run the table.”
Little was so unconcerned about the result of the Eagles game he went to sleep before it was over. And even if they had beaten Washington, he said the pressure of remaining unbeaten would’ve eventually worn on them.
“I wasn’t worried at all,” Little said. “Really, I wasn’t worried at all because that accomplishment is so hard to do and I was looking at somebody talking about when they get to 12 or 13, maybe to 14 wins. But what they don’t say is if they get to that point then their [butts] start getting tighter. So I never figured it would happen.”
Morris said he was actually rooting for the Eagles to go deeper into the season unbeaten. To a point.
“I quietly was rooting for them to go deep into it,” Morris said. “So it would heighten the drama around it. So they would be at 9-0, or 10-0 and people would be talking about going undefeated. But that’s a long, long way off because every week they’d be giving that on any given Sunday aspect come in.
“Then we’d see on any given Sunday anybody can beat anybody. Except in 1972.”
The Dolphins this season are celebrating the 50-year anniversary of the Perfect Season. The club a few weeks ago dedicated an entire weekend to the accomplishment of that 17-0 team from 1972.
Out of the 44 players on that fateful Dolphins team 28 remaining alive.
None of the team’s coaches, including head coach Don Shula, are alive.
One Perfect Season In 103 Years
So, yes, 50 years is a long time and the ’72 Dolphins are waging an ongoing battle with Father Time. But Anderson sees the accomplishment of his team much more broadly than through the prism of a 50-year anniversary.
He sees it as a 103-year accomplishment because that’s how many years the NFL has been in existence.
“When you look back, the reality is we’re the only team that went undefeated and untied in the league’s 103 years. It’s kind of remarkable. We went for so many years, from 1972 to today calling it 50 years. But the reality is when you go back and look, it never happened before.
“There were two seasons in the 1930s and ’40s that there were tie games. Teams were undefeated but they tied a game. So we’re the only team in that 103-year history of the NFL that was undefeated and untied.”
There may be NFL fans who see this as group of yesteryear players celebrating someone else’s failure so they can remain relevant.
That’s not it at all.
“It’s not the point of being happy,” Little said. “It’s not something that I’m doing jumping jacks because this team lost. See, it’s not about them. It’s about us.
“And if it does ever happen that someone goes undefeated, they still won’t surpass us. They’ll just be joining us. They may be playing more games than we played, but we’ll still be the first that ever did it. And we’ll forever have a zero under the L column.”