Looking back to 1966 way before the NFL as we know existed, the NFL had a rival, the upstart AFL (American Football League). The AFL began to force the NFL to sit up and take notice , which brings us to todays historical highlight.
In 1966 the Miami Dolphins were the new kids on the block and as such had the first two picks for their inugral season. With the first pick they went for an All American fullback from Illinois, Jim Grabowski a 6’2 220lb bull of a man who was a highly decorated member of the fighting Illini, including a Rose Bowl MVP award in 1964. A tough, hard nosed runner, Jim could run and block. It would make perfect sense for a fledgling pro team in the 4 yards and a cloud of dust era to draft him. Whats more he finished 3rd in the Heisman Trophy awards with Mike Garret (SCU, kansas city, San Diego) winning the trophy. A few people still remember a game in 1965 when All-American Jim and Linebacker George Webster (Michigan State) were running full steam toward each other the collision intense, Jim got straight back up back in the huddle like nothing had happened, It was arguably one of the greatest tackles ever witnessed.
But the Dolphins weren’t the only team vieing for his services the NFL’s mighty Green Bay Packers, World Champions 1961, 62, 65, and 1966 had drafted Jim in the same draft (AFL vs NFL remember). Now of course Jim had a choice to go to the Dolphins pro football newbies or the Power House Green Bay Packers. Florida sunshine or the fridged wastelands of Wisconcin? Yeah today it seems a no brainer, but in 1966 players played for pride and integrity! (didn’t they?)
Ok, ok some might say salaries are out of control today unlike 1966. Jim signed a reported $625,000 deal with Green Bay, in todays money thats around $8 million!
So was it really different back then?
Now i’m not saying Jim did anything wrong at all, infact it makes you look back and wonder… If Jim had joined the Dolphins would we have ever drafted Csonka? Would we have gone on that incredible run? As for that 1966 draft, a name that will stand out to all Dolfans is 12th round pick Howard Twilley (late round steal!) who went on to have a great Dolphin career and a personal favorite.
Thanks for reading another “Historical Highlight”