Gold Jacket Spotlight: Desire, Determination Defined Bob Griese

Gold Jacket Spotlight Published on : 1/2/2022

Not all of life’s battles are won through brute force or other overwhelming physical gifts.

The same is true on the football field and for inclusion in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, where many of the 354 enshrinees brought something extra to the game that set them apart.

Bob Griese, who this week steps into the Gold Jacket Spotlight, humbly acknowledged his own physical limitations in concluding his Enshrinement speech as a member of the Hall’s Class of 1990.

“If there is any lesson to be learned from me going into the NFL Hall of Fame, it is to the young people,” Bob said that August afternoon. “You don’t have to be the biggest or the strongest or the fastest or the quickest or the prettiest to be successful, as long as you have desire and determination and you have heart and you have some intelligence and you have some persistence and you are consistent. And, yes, maybe if you are stubborn, you can be successful and be successful in life.”

Bob’s coach for much of his professional career, Hall of Famer Don Shula, summed it up this way: “What set him apart was intelligence and leadership – intangibles that can't be measured statistically, except in the final score.”

On the scoreboard, Bob and the Dolphins won far more often than they lost.

They reached three consecutive Super Bowls (VI, VII and VIII) during Bob’s 14-year pro career, winning twice, including the NFL’s lone perfect season: 17-0 in 1972.

Overall, Bob completed 1,926 of his 3,429 passing attempts in the regular season for 25,092 yards and 192 touchdowns. He retired as the franchise leader in those statistics and remains No. 2, trailing only Hall of Famer Dan Marino.

Bob was selected to play in two AFL All-Star Games and six Pro Bowls. He won the Bert Bell Award as the NFL’s Player of the Year in 1977 – an All-Pro season that saw him lead the league in touchdown passes (a career-high 22) and passer rating in lifting the retooling Dolphins to a 10-4 record.

“He's absolutely better than he ever was,” Shula said of Bob early that season.

Later that year, Bob set the franchise record for most touchdown passes in a game when he torched the St. Louis Cardinals for six scores in a 55-14 victory on Thanksgiving Day.

That afternoon also captured what made Bob special as a quarterback and leader: periods of uncanny accuracy and keen decision-making.

Against the Cardinals, Bob attempted only 23 passes for 207 yards – no pass traveled more than 27 yards – and he engineered the offense almost flawlessly.

Other games reflected similar production: 11-of-15 for 141 yards and four touchdowns against the Lions in 1973; 12-of-13 for 171 yards and two touchdowns (and a perfect passer rating) against the Patriots in 1978; and, of course Super Bowls VII and VIII. In those games, he completed a combined 14 of 18 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown.

“I know how impressive his career totals are. To me, and certainly to him, they are only numbers,” Shula said. “You can't measure leadership, unselfishness and professionalism, but the true championships and the Dolphins’ success on the field during his tenure in Miami only pointed to Bob's greatness.”

That greatness is recalled this week in the Gold Jacket Spotlight.