by Aaron Wilson
April 25, 02014
Legendary former Miami Dolphins quarterback Earl Morrall has died at the age of 79.
Morrall played in the NFL for 21 seasons for six different teams.
He started for Bob Griese when he was hurt during the majority of the Dolphins' 1972 perfect season.
Morrall died Friday morning, 42 years after he joined the Dolphins.
Morrall is a former mayor of Davie, where the Dolphins have their offices.
A street, Earl Morrall Pass, is named after him in Davie.
Morrall was a two-time All-Pro with the Dolphins and Baltimore Colts, a two-time Pro Bowl selection for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Colts and a three-time Super Bowl champion in Super Bowls V, VII and VIII.
He was the Most Valuable Player in 1968.
Here are statements released by the Dolphins:
“When Coach Shula brought Earl down from the Colts he called me to alert me he was picking him up. I told him it sounded like a great move, even though I had never met Earl before that. But I did know about him because of what he did in Baltimore and even before that, since we both played in the Big Ten, and I thought it was a great pickup.
We lockered next to each other. Our equipment manager, Danny Dowe, got a rocking chair and put it in front of Earl’s locker because he was so much older than the rest of us. We all had folding chairs, but Earl had a rocking chair. And if he wasn’t the first guy off the field, by the time he got to his locker, there was always someone else sitting in that chair -- me, Zonk (Larry Csonka), Mercury (Morris), or one of the defensive guys. But Earl didn’t care -- he just laughed and pulled out a folding chair for himself. That’s the kind of person he was -- always a team guy.
And he proved that on the field as well. If he had a tip when I was playing and he was on the sideline, he would always make it a point to come up to me and let me know what he saw. And it was the same way when I was hurt and he was playing. He would always come over to me when things weren’t going well and would always ask what I saw or what he was missing. We had a great relationship and we were a better team because of it.
Like me, a lot of my teammates also didn’t know much about Earl when we got him before the start of the 1972 season, and when I got hurt early that year, many of the guys were concerned how well the offense would function with Earl running it. Well, Earl continued the drive and without missing a beat led us to a touchdown, and everyone immediately knew we were in good hands.
Just to show you what kind of guy he was, when I finally got healthy Coach Shula put me back in during the AFC Championship Game. Earl’s competitiveness came out -- he felt he could win the game. He told Coach Shula he didn’t agree with the move, but also told him he would back him up 100%. Earl wanted to play and he wanted to help us win, but above all, he wanted to be a team player.
There would not have been a perfect season without Earl Morrall. My wife, Shay, and I want to extend our condolences to the entire Morrall family. He will be missed.”
"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 also 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.”
“I was very saddened to learn about Earl’s passing. He was someone who was as good a person as he was a player. When I think about Earl, what stands out the most is what a competitor he was on the field and how special he was off it.
“All Earl ever did was win games for me, whether it was as a starter or coming off the bench. What I remember the most, of course, is what he did in 1972 when he replaced Bob Griese after Bob’s injury and kept our Perfect Season going until Bob returned in the playoffs. But Earl won a lot of games for me in Baltimore as well. And he did it in such a humble way -- he was a great team player who would do whatever was asked of him. And he was an outstanding leader who inspired confidence in his teammates. Mary Anne and I want to express our condolences to his wife, Jane, and the rest of their family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
“Our family was saddened to hear of Earl’s passing. He was a prominent member of our Super Bowl winning teams of the early 1970s. He was not only a great player and a great leader, but he also was a wonderful and caring man. He will be sorely missed by the entire Dolphins family.”
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun