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'72 DOLPHINS REVEL IN UNMATCHED LEGACY

The 1972 Dolphins, who remain the NFL's only unbeaten team, had kind words for the vanquished Patriots.

"Obviously, we're proud to still be the only undefeated team in the history of the National Football League," former Dolphins running back Jim Kiick said. "We're proud of it. Why shouldn't we be?"

The '72 Dolphins cast a long shadow over this Super Bowl. Kiick, Garo Yepremian, Larry Little and Mercury Morris gathered Friday for a media briefing. And around town, it was easy to find a debate over who would go down as the greater team - the Dolphins or this year's Patriots.

That is moot now.

"We never were against the New England Patriots," said Kiick, though he also had this opinion: "The Patriots went from being the best team in the history of football to the biggest choke artists."

The Dolphins remained in the spotlight after the game, sharing the attention with the Giants, their new favorite team.

"They played a fabulous game, and I really thought they deserved to win," former Miami tight end Jim Mandich said. "As for the 1972 Miami Dolphins, I don't take joy in the fact the Patriots lost - period. But I do relish and savor the fact that there has only been one unbeaten team in the history of the NFL, and it is the 1972 Miami Dolphins."

Said '72 guard Bob Kuechenberg: "We are still uniquely perfect. Unbelievable. It's the greatest day I can remember since the day we did it ourselves."

SPYGATE UPDATE:NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to meet early this week with Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who wants to discuss the Spygate controversy that occurred as a result of the Patriots' taping the Jets' defensive signals. Goodell said he would be "more than happy to meet with the senator at the earliest possible moment." Specter is troubled that the NFL destroyed the tapes it confiscated from the Patriots. Goodell said he plans to further investigate whether there is a videotape of the Patriots recording the Rams' walk-through before Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002. Goodell said he first heard of the possibility of such a tape five months ago and that the league investigated then.

SPAGNUOLO TO INTERVIEW: The Redskins, entering the final stage of their coaching search, tentatively plan to interview Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo on Tuesday, and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is no longer in the running for the job, the Associated Press reported. Owner Dan Snyder hopes to have a replacement for Joe Gibbs in place by next weekend.

OUT OF ACTION:Troy Brown, the Patriots' career leader in receptions and a key member of their last three championships, was inactive. He missed most of his 15th season with a knee injury. Former Gator receiver Chad Jackson was among other New England inactives. Former Hurricane receiver Sinorice Moss was among Giants inactives.

NEW YORK FANS EXULT:Griffin Ferrara, an 8-year-old from Hillsborough, N.J., wondered if he would lose a bet he had made with his hockey coach days earlier. "My future is on the line," he told his mother, Elaine. If the Giants lost, Griffin would have to sing I'm a Little Teapot in front of his hockey team. But Sunday night, Griffin breathed a sigh of relief. "I so did not want to sing that song," he said.

Many Giants fans who celebrated said they could hardly believe their luck. "It's phenomenal. You couldn't ask for a more exciting ending," said Ralph Shaoul, 37, a New Yorker who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Chants of "18-1! 18-1!" filtered through the hallways behind the stands.

"(The Patriots) had everything to lose. I really don't feel that bad for them," said Nick Panagakos, 38, of Staten Island.

VICTORY PARADE: New York will honor the Giants with a ticker-tape parade Tuesday that will end with a ceremony at City Hall Plaza. The parade is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. on Broadway at Battery Place and is expected to follow a route north to Chambers Street.

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