Archive for Friday, November 30, 2007

Csonka forecasts better days for struggling Dolphins

November 30, 2007


— A good place for a Miami Dolphins fan to seek refuge this season would be Alaska, where the NFL seems very far away.

"Yep, it does," Larry Csonka says. "Everything is very far away there."

The former Dolphins fullback spends half the year in Alaska taping his outdoor cable TV show, savoring the frontier lifestyle and paying little attention to the day's headlines and standings.

Csonka's now back home in Ohio for the winter, and for the first time this season he watched his old team play Monday night. Miami lost at Pittsburgh to fall to 0-11.

"What goes around comes around," Csonka says.

Even if it takes 35 years. In 1972, Csonka and the Dolphins went 17-0, still the only perfect season in NFL history, and they repeated as Super Bowl champions the next year. Csonka was the face of the franchise, and the image lingers of him bulling into the line, head down and both arms wrapped around the ball, ready to throw his shoulder at some poor would-be tackler.

Bruising, relentless and intimidating, Csonka was everything the '07 Dolphins are not. But he does not criticize or cast blame for the sorry state of his former team, because he remembers what it was like to lose.

"You talk about 17-0," Csonka says, "but in 1969, just three years before '72, we were 2-12 or something like that. And we got waffled a couple of times."

Those '69 Dolphins actually went 3-10-1, even though the team included Csonka, Bob Griese, Nick Buoniconti and Larry Little, all future members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Those Dolphins became champions, and Csonka says the current Dolphins can rebuild quickly, too. He sees signs of a solid foundation, including quarterback John Beck and receiver Ted Ginn Jr., both rookies.

"I like the young quarterback they have," Csonka says. "I talked to him on the phone right after he was drafted. He likes to fish. He can't be all bad if he's a fisherman."

Csonka invited Beck to go fishing in Alaska, and the rookie says he plans to accept the invitation and make the trip after the season.

"For me, Larry Csonka is not just a football guy, but growing up watching outdoor shows, I would watch his show a ton," Beck says. "So it's cool. And I've always watched football from way back in his time. The thing that sticks out is when you see old highlights of Larry Csonka, you think of the tough-looking guy running people over."

Touted as the Dolphins' quarterback of the future, Beck has failed to lead the offense to a point in his two starts. He was hindered by a muddy field at Pittsburgh, and the Dolphins lost 3-0 on a last-minute field goal.

"Unusual circumstances," Csonka says with a chuckle. "The Dolphins held their own. They're not laying down."

Csonka will be in Miami for a reunion of the '72 team in two weeks, when the Dolphins play Baltimore. By then they could be 0-13.

The only franchise to achieve a perfect season is in danger of the first 0-16 finish, but Csonka recoils from the notion. He notes the Dolphins have lost six games by three points apiece.


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