By Zane Miller
After being drafted by the Miami Dolphins with the fourth overall pick in the 1967 NFL/AFL Draft, quarterback Bob Griese had already put together a solid resume for his time in the pros. After being named as the runner-up in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting, Griese made the jump to the NFL along with the Dolphins following the AFL-NFL merger starting with the 1970 season. In 1971, he would earn first-team All-Pro honors for the first time in his career. He led the Dolphins to their first Super Bowl appearance that season, although they would lose to the Dallas Cowboys 24-3.
Griese was coming off the best season in NFL history in 1972, playing a crucial role in the team’s undefeated regular season and subsequent Super Bowl victory. However, this would not come without adversity, as Griese suffered an injury and missed several games before being healthy enough to return for the AFC Championship Game. In 1973, with a full offseason of recovery, Griese would put together another spectacular season.
His best performance of the regular season came in the finale on December 15th at home against the Detroit Lions, winning 34-7 as he passed for four touchdowns and 141 yards with no interceptions to end the year with a 12-1 record, only missing one regular season contest as the Dolphins finished at 12-2 to score the AFC East division championship.
Griese ended the 1973 season with 17 passing touchdowns, taking sixth place for the season in that category, finishing just one behind Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson for fifth. However, Griese would only get 1,422 passing yards on the year with a 16th-place result in the then 26-team league, 60 behind Houston Oilers starter Dan Pastorini in 15th.
On December 23rd, Griese and the Dolphins would stay in Miami to face the AFC Central champion Bengals in the first round of the playoffs. The Dolphins grabbed a 14-3 first quarter lead, thanks to a Griese touchdown pass to wide receiver Paul Warfield and a short touchdown rush by running back Larry Csonka. Although the team would score a rushing touchdown by running back Mercury Morris early in the second quarter, the Bengals would fight back to make it a 21-16 game at halftime. However, the Miami defense would shut out Cincinnati in the second half, leading to a 34-16 win to move on to the conference final. Griese threw for a pair of touchdowns and 159 passing yards, with touchdown passes to Warfield and tight end Jim Mandich.
The Dolphins remained in Miami for their December 30th matchup against the Oakland Raiders for the AFC title, as they would again come out swinging with a pair of Csonka touchdown runs to claim a 14-0 advantage at halftime. Though the Raiders would close the gap to 17-10 after the third quarter, another Miami field goal and Csonka’s third touchdown run of the day would send the Dolphins to their third straight Super Bowl with a 27-10 victory. However, Griese would not be the reason why, as he had a terrible game with no touchdown passes and just 34 yards through the air with an interception added in.
Nonetheless, the Dolphins headed to Houston, Texas for Super Bowl VII, taking on the Minnesota Vikings on the January 13th, 1974 matchup. Like the two other playoff rounds, Miami dominated the first half, leading 14-0. However, the defense kept the domination going deep into the game, allowing the Dolphins to take a 24-0 lead through three quarters. While the Vikings ended the shutout bid with a fourth quarter touchdown, it would be too little, too late as the Dolphins won 24-7 to clinch back-to-back Super Bowl titles. However, Griese again struggled throughout the afternoon, only throwing for a total of 73 yards and no touchdowns, though he would also not give up any turnovers.
Although Griese would not reach the over-10 win mark again in his NFL career, he continued to assemble an impressive body of work as he played his entire career with the Dolphins. Most notably, he would score first-team All-Pro honors for a second time in 1977 with a league-leading 22 touchdown passes, before retiring following the 1980 season with a total of 82 NFL regular season wins, two Super Bowl victories and two first-team All-Pro selections.
After retirement, Griese found a role as a color commentator for NFL on NBC beginning in 1982 through the 1986 season, before becoming a commentator for college football games on ABC and ESPN from 1987 to 2010. Griese remained active in the color commentating business for nearly another decade, serving as an analyst for Dolphins radio broadcasts starting in 2011 before parting ways after the 2019 season.
Unsurprisingly due to his long tenure in Miami, the Dolphins retired his #12 jersey number in 1985, prior to being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.