Bill Stanfill, leader of Dolphins’ legendary ‘No-Name Defense,’ dies at 69

Defensive lineman Bill Stanfill and linebacker Bob Matheson of the Miami Dolphins stop quarterback Len Dawson of the Kansas City Chiefs during a game on Sep. 17, 1972 at the Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kidwiler Collection

Bill Stanfill, the leader of the "No-Name Defense" on the 1972 Miami Dolphins team that went undefeated died on Thursday in Albany. He was 69.

Stanfill, an All-American defensive tackle at Georgia and winner of the Outland Trophy, was a four-time Pro Bowler in an eight-year career with Miami. He anchored the Dolphins defense along with Nick Buoniconti, winning back-to-back Super Bowls in 1972 and ’73.

He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame along with coach Vince Dooley in 1998.

"Bill was probably the greatest athlete as a lineman I ever coached," Dooley told The Associated Press. "He could have been a great tight end as well. Against the triple option, he was the only player that could take the quarterback, the dive back, and the pitch man. Bill was a great person, great warrior, and a great Bulldog."

Stanfill once described how growing up on a farm made him fit for football:

"By milking a cow every morning, I developed tremendous handgrip. I could head-butt an offensive lineman, grab him under his pads, jerk him off-balance and then make a play on the ball. "When I walked the rows of peanuts and pulled big weeds, I gained great back and leg strength which helped me drive off the line of scrimmage and control the line. When we picked cotton, I took the 250-, 300-pound sheets of cotton after they had been weighed and threw them on a wagon. This chore was like wrapping up a running back and taking him north and not letting him take me south …  "Holding pigs for my dad to castrate was quite a challenge. I can’t say it helped prepare me for football, but it sure did remind me an awful lot of sacking Steve Spurrier."

Stanfill’s health suffered after his football career and he was featured in a 2001 Sports Illustrated article that detailed the myriad physical problems he endured. He was forced to use a walker after hip-replacement surgery and still felt the effects of a near-fatal injury from a 1975 preseason game. He banged heads with a teammate and nearly severed his spinal cord.

He was hospitalized after a bad fall earlier this year and suffered complications during treatment. He died in hospice care in Albany, Ga.

"Just wish I’d made some of the money they’re making today," he told SI. "It would make this a lot easier to live with."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.