Don Shula had the 1972 Miami Dolphins over to his house for dinner Thursday to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of their perfect season.
''It's going to be a wonderful evening for me to have them walk through the door,'' the Pro Football Hall of Fame coach said beforehand. ''I can check them in and weigh them in and have them run gassers and the 12-minute run, and make life miserable for them remembering what I put them through.''
The dinner is among the festivities this week for the 1972 team, which will be honored at the Dolphins game against Jacksonville on Sunday.
Led by such Hall of Famers as Bob Griese, Larry Csonka and Paul Warfield, the `72 Dolphins went 17-0 - still the only unbeaten, untied team in NFL history.
''I never thought it would happen that we would be the only team,'' Hall of Fame guard Larry Little said. ''Then 10 years went by, 20 years went by, 30 years went by. Now 40 years. And maybe 10 years from now, we'll all be in wheelchairs and it still may not have happened.''
Quarterback Earl Morrall, at 78 the team's oldest player, said he thought most of his ex-teammates looked good.
''We've all gotten a little bigger and stronger,'' Morrall said with a smile.
Most of the team was expected to attend this week's events. Safety Jake Scott, the most valuable player in the Super Bowl that season, made the trip from his home in Hawaii after missing similar reunions for many years because he had a falling out with Shula.
''That's all water under the bridge now,'' Scott said Thursday. ''It's too long to hold a grudge. You get over it, go on and have some fun.''
Some of the players are fiercely protective of the 1972 Dolphins' unique place in history, and the 82-year-old Shula said because of their record, they deserve to be considered the best team ever.
He declined to predict how many more seasons might pass before another team goes undefeated.
''You just never know,'' he said. ''We're just happy and thankful that we did it. And if somebody else does it, we're not a bunch of angry old guys salivating and wishing they'd get beat. I'll call that coach and congratulate him, and I'm sure my players will call their players and congratulate them.''
Scott, 67, joked that contemporary teams will have a tough time catching the `72 Dolphins.
''As we get older,'' he said with a laugh, ''we're getting better and better.''
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