The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s collection of memorabilia grew in number and significance on Wednesday with the arrival of a shipment sent by Hall of Fame fullback Larry Csonka. The Class of 1987 inductee, who helped fuel the Miami Dolphins’ powerful run-oriented attack in the 1970s, donated many pieces from his career with the team.
Aside from the historical importance of what the artifacts represent, there are some interesting side stories shared by Csonka about the unique donation. For instance, he gave the Hall of Fame what he believes to be one of his jerseys from the team’s undefeated 1972 season. He kept the jersey for many years, but it now is missing the nameplate. That is because he removed it once for a television commercial shoot and lost it. He also sent along the pants he wore during the Dolphins’ perfect 17-0 season in ’72.
Another unusual item is the helmet he wore during three straight seasons in which he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. More importantly, those seasons were also capped by appearances in Super Bowls VI, VII, and VIII that included back-to-back victories following the 1972 and ’73 seasons. He was named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl VIII after rushing for a then-Super Bowl record 145 yards in Miami’s 24-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
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While the helmet is quite recognizable and easily associated with Csonka through its facemask and bull-ring, the Dolphins logo is no longer affixed to the piece. Following the 1974 season, Csonka and teammates Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield jumped to the rival World Football League. Csonka took his helmet with him and as such the Dolphins logo was peeled off and replaced with the marks of the Memphis Southmen, also commonly referred to as the Grizzlies. Striping was placed over the painted Dolphins’ orange and aqua lines down the middle of the helmet.
There were several other items from Csonka’s days with the Dolphins from the early ‘70s when the franchise dominated the National Football League. Included among the mementos in the donation were his equipment bag used from 1970 through 1974, his custom thigh pads designed by team trainer Bob Lundy for the ’72 season, and his shoulder pads worn in Super Bowls VII and VIII.
He also sent two pairs of his shoes, his cleats from Super Bowl VII along with the turf shoes he wore during home games in the 1970, 1971, and 1972 seasons.
“To add such terrific one-of-a-kind artifacts to our collection as the ones Larry has provided is simply fantastic. We are pleased that he has entrusted us with the responsibility of preserving and sharing with the public these personal mementoes from his Hall of Fame career, ” commented the Hall of Fame’s Vice President-Communications/Exhibits Joe Horrigan.
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