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Miami Dolphins - Greatest Sports Franchises

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Founded as an expansion team in 1966, the Miami Dolphins are the oldest remaining major league sports franchise in the state of Florida. It wasn’t long after the team was launched that they began seeing results: after hiring coach Don Shula, the Dolphins had a winning season and became the first NFL team to advance to the Super Bowl three years in a row. The unforgettable 1972 perfect season was capped off by a Super Bowl win, and this remains the only time a franchise has pulled this off. In this video, continues our series on the Greatest Sports Franchises of All Time with a look at the Miami Dolphins.

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The History of the Miami Dolphins

This remains the only team to go undefeated in a season and win the Super Bowl. Welcome to, and today we’ll be continuing our series of the most successful sports franchises with a look at the Miami Dolphins.

Early Days

The Miami Dolphins were founded as an expansion team in 1966 by Joe Robbie, and began playing in the American Football League. They joined the NFL in 1970 after the AFL/NFL merger, and today they compete in the AFC East.

Don Shula

After the 1969 season, the Dolphins hired Don Shula as head coach. As a student of legendary coach Paul Brown, Shula’s plan for success included more elbow grease than tricks. That hard work soon paid off with the team’s first winning season. Before long, the Dolphins became the first team to advance to the Super Bowl for three consecutive seasons.

Divisional Champs

Led by quarterback Bob Griese and running back Larry Csonka, the Dolphins won the AFC championship in 1971 but lost to the Dallas Cowboys 24–3 in Super Bowl VI.

1972: First Perfect NFL Season with a Super Bowl Win

The next season, the Dolphins won all 14 regular season match-ups, both playoff games and Super Bowl VII to complete the NFL’s first perfect season that included a Super Bowl win. That team has since been immortalized as one of the greatest in NFL history.

An Impressive Line-Up

And with good reason: the team was stacked. Future Hall of Famers Larry Little and Bob Kuechenberg helped form the offensive line. The impressive “No-Name Defense” was made up of Nick Buoniconti, Bill Stanfill, Manny Fernandez, Dick Anderson and Jake Scott.

More Records

During 1972, the Dolphins also set the NFL single-season rushing record: running backs Csonka and Mercury Morris were honored as the first teammates to rush one thousand yards each during a season.

Another Super Bowl Win

The team followed that impressive year with yet another championship in Super Bowl VIII.

“Sea of Hands” Game

However, in 1974 the team was eliminated in the first round by the Oakland Raiders in the “Sea of Hands” game. This legendary match saw the Raiders’ Clarence Davis catch the ball amid a sea of Dolphins D.

The Killer B’s

After that, it was up and down for the Dolphins: the abbreviated 1982 season saw the team led by the “Killer B’s” on defense. Despite their talent, they lost to the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVII, 27-17.

Dan Marino

Things improved in 1983 when the Dolphins drafted Dan Marino with the 27th pick. During his career, Marino tore up the record books, led the Dolphins to five division titles, ten playoff appearances and one Super Bowl showing before his retirement.

Marino’s Records

1984 was Marino’s first full season, and that year he led the Dolphins to a 14-2 record. He also threw for an impressive 5,084 yards, 48 touchdown passes, and 362 completions and won MVP accolades. However, in his only championship appearance, Marino and the Dolphins lost to the San Francisco 49ers 38–16 in Super Bowl XIX.

Marino’s Legacy

Marino was still breaking records in 1995, and while these were later broken, he is possibly the best player in any sport to have never won a championship.

Loss of Shula, Then Marino

After that season, Shula retired. His replacement was Jimmy Johnson, who had seen success at the University of Miami and had won two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys. Despite these previous successes, Johnson was unable to reestablish Miami’s former glory. After the 1999 season, Johnson left the team and Marino retired. The 21st century saw more players come and go.

From the Orange Bowl to Sun Life Stadium

The club played many of its most successful seasons at the Miami Orange Bowl. In 1986 they moved to Joe Robbie Stadium, which was renamed Sun Life Stadium in 2010.


As the oldest continually-operating major league professional sports franchise in the state of Florida, the Miami Dolphins retain a special place in sports history. It’s their record over the years that seals their place as one of the Greatest Sports Franchises of all-time.

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