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August 20th, 2013
06:21 PM ET

'72 Dolphins finally invited to the White House

On Tuesday, 41 years after they accomplished perfection, the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only undefeated, Super Bowl-winning team in NFL history, finally had their day at the White House.

"Any reason that we have after some 40, 41 years to get together is always appreciated, the fact that we were called to the White House made it even more special," Pro football Hall of Fame fullback Larry Csonka said in an interview with "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

Several members of the championship team refused to go, saying they disagree with the president's policies.

"This is a country where you have your freedom of speech, freedom to express your politics, freedom to do what you want to do, and I think that's exemplified by the fact that some of the team decided not to come," said Csonka.

It is a trip that might not have happened if not for former Dolphins tight end Marv Fleming, who spent the past 15 years writing letters and talking to public officials trying to get some love for his old team.

His battle cry: Why not us? Why not the '72 Dolphins?

For those who haven't heard, the 1972 Miami Dolphins are kind of a big deal, and they'd be the first ones to say so. The team, coached by the legendary Don Schula, capped a 17-0 season with a win over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII. That season, they were forced to swallow their egos, and weather the loss of their future Hall of Fame quarterback for much of the season because he broke his ankle in week five.

An undefeated season is a feat no other team has been able to accomplish since.

The Super Bowl shuffling 1985 Bears came close.

Then Tom Brady and the New England Patriots came along and actually won more games than the '72 Dolphins, but suffered a giant upset in Super Bowl XLII, finishing 18-1.

Some of the '72 Dolphins famously, some would say insufferably, break out a champagne toast each season when the last undefeated team loses.

Csonka said he hopes to never see another undefeated team.

"Seems like there's always someone knocking at the door, trying to climb the mountain. But right now, we're still alone, sitting at the peak," said Csonka.

Still, until Tuesday, there was no respect from Washington, D.C.

Part of the reason the team was not honored after running the table may have been because then-President Richard Nixon was jowls deep in the Watergate scandal at the time.

It is more likely that Nixon, a huge Redskins fan, was upset that his hometown team lost the big game. Just two weeks before the Super Bowl, Nixon invited Redskins coach George Allen to a ceremony in the Rose Garden. Legend has it he even called a key Redskins play in 1971 – probably, a trick play.

There's even a tape of him and Allen talking football, after the Redskins beat the Cowboys in the regular season that year.

"That also was a time before it was really a regular thing to bring the Super Bowl champions to the White House," said Csonka. "While in some respects, it may seem like we were neglected, I don't necessarily feel that way."

Besides, Csonka said it was "neater" to celebrate a unique situation, made even more special after 41 years, and come "to the White House to celebrate the thing with a pretty unique president right now."

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