Former Dolphin Jim Kiick has passed away.

Awsi Dooger

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Another player from my youth has passed. I will never forget the joy the teams of the early 1970’s bought to me personally and the South Florida community as a whole. Thank you Jim Kiick for being a part of that joy and may you Rest In Peace.
That's exactly it. South Florida suddenly mattered nationally because of those early '70s Dolphins. I always like to apply situational influence for the younger fans to sense the realities of that time frame. In the years prior to those Dolphins the primary things South Florida was known for were the Jackie Gleason Show filmed at the Miami Beach Auditorium every week, and Richard Nixon making frequent visits to his vacation retreat on Key Biscayne. Gleason was particularly popular because he always lavished praise on the area, "The Miami Beach audience is the greatest audience in the world." Many viewers would tune in for that line alone every week. Gleason delivered it with decibel power, body language and emphasis.

When my family traveled nationally in the late '60s and I told new friends met at campsites that I was from Miami, it would either be a blank stare or one of their parents mentioning Jackie Gleason. That was it. There was no South Beach recognition or anything else. Some people heard the term Key Biscayne associated with Nixon all the time, but didn't realize Key Biscayne was part of the Miami area.

It didn't change until the Dolphins soared to prominence, first after '71 and then obviously following '72.

Jim Kiick was always a patient runner with that little pause stutter step approaching the hole. My number one football memory of him will always be the winning touchdown in the 1972 playoff opener hosting Cleveland. That remains by far the most nerve-racking game in franchise history, given everything that was at stake but the team playing so tight and the Orange Bowl crowd silent and stunned.

As I've emphasized many times, Morrall hitting Warfield on a long crossing pass on that drive is easily the most underrated play in Dolphins history. Nothing was happening until that play. We trailed 14-13 and the offense hadn't done anything all day, and especially in the second half. Even the loudest most positive fans were beginning to accept the reality we might actually lose and be mocked forever as 14-1.

Morrall to Warfield was like a surge of lightning spreading throughout the stadium, and the team itself. Kiick scored up the middle from I believe 8 yards out a few plays later. The Dolphins held on, 20-14.

Remember the asinine theme about shutting up the '72 Dolphins as they toasted? My argument was always that mortality will take care of that, and sadly sooner than we realize. Only pathetic jealous types ever pushed that shut-up theme in the first place.
 
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