Mike Kolen, member of undefeated Dolphins Super Bowl team, dead at 76

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Mike Kolen, who played linebacker for the undefeated Miami Dolphins Super Bowl team, has died, his alma mater Auburn University announced on Wednesday. He was 76.

The Dolphins selected Kolen in the 12th round of the 1970 draft out of Auburn, where he was a two-time All-SEC selection and earned the nickname “Captain Crunch.” He ended up playing seven seasons in Miami before retiring after the 1977 season.

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Mike Kolen vs Patriots

Miami Dolphins linebacker Mike Kolen against the New England Patriots in Massachusetts, Dec. 5, 1971. (Dick Raphael-USA Today Sports)

“Mike Kolen is one of the finest men I’ve ever known,” former Auburn athletics director David Housel said in a press release. “Being a football player was secondary to Mike Kolen. He’s one of the greatest football players Auburn ever had, but he was much more. A rock, a beacon.

“When I think of Mike Kolen, I think of toughness, competitiveness, and a quality of goodness. He was a great football player, but he was a better man.”

Kolen played 84 games for the Dolphins and had five interceptions in that span.

Dolphins vs Redskins

Billy Kilmer of the Washington Redskins gets sacked by Mike Kolen of the Miami Dolphins during Super Bowl VII at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Jan. 14, 1973. (Dick Raphael-USA Today Sports)

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He was not only on the lone undefeated 1972 Dolphins team, but was on the team that won the Super Bowl in 1973 as well.

Kolen was also a part of one of the most famous plays in NFL history, The Palm Beach Post noted. 

Known as the “Sea of Hands” play, Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler threw a miracle touchdown pass to Clarence Davis in the 1974 AFC Divisional Round.

Mike Kolen in Super Bowl

Miami Dolphins linebacker Mike Kolen on the field against the Minnesota Vikings during Super Bowl VIII at Rice Stadium, Jan. 13, 1974 (Dick Raphael-USA Today Sports)

Stabler was falling on the ground as he threw the pass and, somehow, the ball bounced around and got through the hands of Kolen, Larry Ball and Charlie Babb. Davis came down with the ball, and thus the Dolphins dynasty was over.

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Kolen’s cause of death wasn’t revealed. But he told the Miami Herald in 2017 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

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