EARL MORRALL, THE QB THAT SAVED THE ‘72 DOLPHINS PERFECT SEASON, DIES AT 79
Earl Morrall, an NFL quarterback for 21 years who started nine games during the Miami Dolphins’ perfect season in 1972 died Friday morning, according to the Naples News Daily. He was 79.
The Dolphins also confirmed Morrall’s death and released this statement: “The Miami Dolphins’ family is deeply saddened by the passing of Earl Morrall today. Earl not only left an indelible mark in Dolphins history with his play on the field during the Perfect Season Super Bowl VII Championship team, but was extremely active in the community as a player and Dolphins alumnus. He will be greatly missed. Our prayers and thoughts are with his wife Jane, family and friends during this time.”
When Bob Griese broke his ankle in 1972, Morrall came off the bench and started the final nine games of the regular season for the Dolphins. Morrall won praise from head coach Don Shula for his willingness to step aside when Griese returned for the AFC championship game.
Griese started in the Super Bowl to help Miami finish 17-0. That remains the only perfect season in NFL history.
Morrall also played for the 49ers, Steelers, Lions, Giants and Colts, winning three Super Bowl rings. He came off the bench to replace an injured Johnny Unitas and help the Colts win the Super Bowl to cap the 1970 season, and he was the backup to Griese on the Dolphins’ 1973 championship team.
The ‘72 Dolphins were led by such future Pro Football Hall of Famers as Shula, Griese, Larry Csonka and Paul Warfield, but their season might be long forgotten if not for Morrall, then regarded as a journeyman. At 38, Morrall was the oldest player on the team.
That’s why Shula — who also coached Unitas and Dan Marino — held Morrall in special regard as a quarterback.
"I’ve always said Unitas, Griese and Dan Marino are in the Hall of Fame, and Earl is in my own personal Hall of Fame."
Morrall was a Michigan native who played at Michigan State. In retirement he lived in Naples, Fla.
Morrall was a great representative of the NFL. He will be missed. (Photo: Miami Dolphins)