MIAMI (AP) — Larry Csonka says the 1972 Miami Dolphins’ trip to the White House will be worth the wait, and he’s making the trip from Alaska.
For more than 20 years the Pro Football Hall of Fame fullback has spent summers in Alaska, where he hosts an outdoor show for NBC. He’ll leave Sunday night to get to Washington for a ceremony with his former teammates Tuesday, when President Obama honors the only NFL team to achieve a perfect season.
“It means more now after 40 years than it would have at the time it happened,” Csonka said by phone from somewhere north of Wasilla. “We realize a lot more today than we did at the time what a unique achievement it was, and it will be fun to celebrate it with the unique president we have now.”
The 66-year-old Csonka plans to fly from Anchorage to Minneapolis to Atlanta to Washington and figures the trip will take 12 to 15 hours. He said the decision to go was easier because current Dolphins owner Stephen Ross — a Republican — is paying expenses for all of the players.
“The fact he was behind it and offered to pay for it — how do you turn down something like that?” Csonka said. “That’s a very kind offer. That shows you this is not a political issue.”
The 1972 Dolphins, who went 17-0, didn’t make it to the White House in the months after their Super Bowl victory. President Nixon was immersed in the Watergate scandal at the time, and White House visits by sports teams were less common than today.
Most of the ’72ers still living are expected to attend, along with Hall of Fame coach Don Shula. The team has frequent reunions, and Csonka said he always enjoys them, including a recent one at a Monday night game.
“It was funny,” Csonka said. “We got on the bus to go to the game, and the lights went out and it was dark, and guys were joking and talking about the same things as 40 years ago, and their voices hadn’t changed. It was like stepping back in time. Then we got to the game and the lights went on, and we were back to being old men.”