I have to say that I have enjoyed the previous interviews with members of the Miami Dolphins that I have done. All of which have been insightful, enjoyable, and had, to some degree, an element that made my nerves a little uneasy. If for no other reason than the fact that I am Brian Miller, a stay at home father, paramedic by trade, Miami Dolphins fan, and NOT some ESPN guy or some local news reporter. I’m just a very big fan of the Miami Dolphins.
So when I thought about contacting the representatives for former Miami Dolphin great and Hall of Fame running back Larry Csonka, I figured what the heck, it’s worth a try. So with an uneasy hand I made some phone calls, I typed out a few e-mails, and then I waited. In June I was told to contact them again at the end of September. I waited. At the end of September I made that second e-mail and within a week I received word that Mr. Csonka was open to doing an interview with me for this site. Needless to say I felt like a little kid who was meeting his first sports idol. I am 38 years old and remember watching Larry Csonka wrap up his career in a Dolphins uniform, too young to remember him in his prime, but old enough to know who and what I was watching on TV.
Although I was unable to speak directly with Mr. Csonka, a privilege I have had in the past in prior meetings by happenstance, I still can not believe that I had this opportunity. I can not thank Mr. Csonka enough for the opportunity and the honor of having him answer a few of not only my questions, but the questions of you, our readers.
Thank you to all of you who e-mailed questions to me and to those of you who did not have their questions answered, I’m sorry.
Here are your questions, and here are the responses of Mr. Larry Csonka.
1. From Brian at Phin Phanatic: You have moved on from your success in football and have become a very successful television personality with your “North to Alaska” series. How has life after football changed you, and specifically your work with the outdoors and your near death experience last year?
LC: Life after football has changed me most drastically on Monday mornings, I feel a lot better. I have always loved the outdoors and feel my football career gave me the key to host my own outdoor series. The near death experience happens periodically in everyone’s life, mine received a little more publicity because of the unusual location. I don’t go in small boats and in big oceans anymore.
2. From George in Maine: In the 1972 SI cover with Jim Kiick, you two appear to be laughing, not just smiling. Your right hand is posed nicely, was that a message to anyone specifically or was that just having a little fun?
LC: That photograph was made in jest for my private use via an agreement with the photographer. Somehow it slipped through the censors and ended up on the cover of Sports Illustrated. It was an accident, it was not intended for anyone specifically.
3. From Ben Bruce: How do you feel about the 2007 NE Patriots threatening that ’72 record. We always hear about how the champaigne corks fly when the last team loses, how do you really feel about that accomplishment?
LC: In regards to the New England Patriots, I do not wish them any luck in pursuing the undefeated title. But, if anyone has an undefeated season, I will be the first to congratulate them.
4. Brian Miller/PP: I recently had a chance to talk with Miami Dolphins team photographer David Cross and the subject of the Alligator in the shower came up…he said if ever given the chance to talk with you, that I should ask. So, Mr. Csonka, what was the real story behind that Alligator?
LC: Coach Shula was a very intense coach. In order to inject a little humor into mid-season intensity, we decided Coach Shula should meet an alligator in his shower. “It worked!”
5. Brian Miller: I have heard from other players within the Miami organization, specifically John Offehdahl, that have said players never scared them, but that Don Shula made them shake. Did Don Shula scare you? What about when you told him you were leaving for another league? What could you tell the ordinary average fan such as myself about Don Shula that we would never have the opportunity to know if not for someone like yourself who has been close to him?
LC: I cannot say he ever scared me, but his intensity made life tough. I did not like leaving the Miami Dolphins or Coach Shula, that was strictly a business decision. I did enjoy coming back and finishing my career there. Coach Shula dealt with details intensely, even the smallest detail was gone over a minimum of three times during the practice week. Even travel plans were discussed a minimum of three times, there was no excuse for a mental mistake.
6. From Dave: What would you tell a Miami Dolphins fan now to give them some hope or encouragement with this team?
LC: Nearly every team in the NFL has had its good times and its poor times. Just hang in there, the Dolphins have a great owner and will enjoy good times in the near future.
7. From Charles: I have to ask about the WFL. If you had it to do over again, would you?
LC: Yes, it was a business decision.
8. From Jack in NE: It is often speculated how a player from a different time would match up with today’s players. How would you match up with what you see out there today?
LC: I think I would match up well with other players, but I feel the rule changes in the last ten years have greatly affected the position I would play.
9. From Fin Heaven: Of the teammates that you played with, who do you keep in touch with the most?
LC: Jim Kiick, Manny Fernandez, Bill Stanfill, Nick Buoniconti, Jim Langer, and Bob Kuechenberg.
10. From all Miami Dolphins fans: (this was the one question submitted more than any other – 22 people asked this question) What is the single best memory you have from your days with the Miami Dolphins?
LC: The 1972 Perfect Season.