HOF Artifact of the Week

HOF Artifact of the Week

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Pro Football Hall of Famer Larry Csonka wore these pants during the Miami Dolphins' 17-0 perfect season in 1972. That season Csonka rushed for 1,117 yards and was named to his third Pro Bowl. He teamed that year with Mercury Morris to become the first 1,000 yard rushing duo in NFL history.

The Dolphins' 17-0 season culminated with a 14-7 victory over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII. It is a unique feat that has stood the test of time. Will there ever be another perfect season? Every year that passes, it makes the remarkable record seem less and less likely to be matched. The most recent challenger were the 2007 New England Patriots who finished the regular season with a 16-0 mark.

The 1972 season was legendary coach Don Shula's third with the Dolphins. Under his strict no-nonsense approach, the young Dolphins team gelled into a cohesive unit. Though the team featured players like Nick Buoniconti, Larry Csonka, Larry Little, Bob Griese, Jim Langer and Paul Warfield - all Hall of Famers - it was often contributions from the lesser-knowns that made the difference. In fact, the team featured a defense that, although very good, lacked "star-power." Capitalizing on their anonymity, they accepted the nickname the "No-Name Defense." Eventually, even the "No-Names" of defensive linemen Manny Fernandez and Bill Stanfill became familiar names. 

In week five a name from the past surfaced when 38-year-old veteran quarterback Earl Morrall came off the bench to replace a severely injured Bob Griese. Morrall kept the unbeaten streak going through the remainder of the regular season and a 20-14 playoff victory over the Cleveland Browns.

In Week 16, it was a healthy Bob Griese who came from the bench to direct his team to victory with a hard-fought 21-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Two weeks later, Griese started and finished Miami's 14-7 victory over the Redskins in Super Bowl VII.

Seven NFL teams have gone undefeated in the regular season. Four of those teams played in an era before the league had a championship game and each of those four teams included at least one tied game. Since 1933, when the NFL instituted a championship game, three teams have gone undefeated and untied during the regular season only to lose in the championship game.

  • 1920 Akron Pros, 8-0-3
  • 1922 Canton Bulldogs, 10-0-2
  • 1923 Canton Bulldogs, 11-0-1
  • 1929 Green Bay Packers, 12-0-1
  • 1934 Chicago Bears, 13-0 regular season record, lost championship game
  • 1942 Chicago Bears, 11-0 regular season record, lost championship game
  • 2007 New England Patriots, 16-0, regular season record, lost Super Bowl after two playoff wins

Our weekly artifacts and other unique items are featured daily in our docent presentations for visitors of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Plan your visit to the Hall to learn more about the collection in our archives.

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