WASHINGTON — Nearly three dozen members of the 1972 Dolphins finally received their White House moment Tuesday, 40 years after their unmatched 17-0 championship season. President Barack Obama welcomed the former players to the East Room.
"I know that some people may be asking why we are doing this after all these years," Obama said. "My answer is simple: I wanted to be the young guy up here for once."
Four decades ago, saluting athletes was not an established White House tradition.
Hall of Famers Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Larry Little, Nick Buoniconti and coach Don Shula attended. Jim Langer, Manny Fernandez and Bob Kuechenberg did not attend, citing political differences with Obama.
"I'm just sorry that they weren't here," Griese said. "We had a great day."
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross — a Republican — offered to pay all travel expenses.
Shula reminded Obama that in 1985 the Dolphins were the only team to defeat the president's beloved Bears that season.
Little said it felt like a career capstone.
"I can go no higher. This is it," he said. "Hall of Fame, 17-0, 32-2 over two years, and now being on the White House grounds. Can't beat it."
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