Earl Morral or Don Strock?


Our feature on ATW: Around the Web, last week asked the question, “who was the better back-up QB…Earl Morral? Or Don Strock?”

This is one of those debates that are fun to talk about when there is nothing going on, to talk about. It’s hard to figure out which one fits the bill as “best“. Each one in their own right did more for the history of the Miami Dolphins franchise than the other.

Or did they?

To many, Earl Morral is the first person they think of when they ask the question posed above. Earl of course was the QB who came in for Bob Griese in 1972 and led the Dolphins through the regular season to the Super Bowl. Many will argue that had it not been for the play of Morral, the Dolphins would never have achieved perfection.

My question would be, what else did he do? Would he be remembered at all had the Dolphins not gone 17-0? I’m not taking up a side against him, as I think his accomplishment in that year alone, stands above what some other Super Bowl QBs’ were never able to achieve…immortality. A solid debate can even be made as to who was the better QB for the Super Bowl that year, Bob Griese or Earl Morral?” Let’s face it, if your a true football fan, not just a Dolphins fan, you are more apt to answer correctly, “who was the QB who led the Dolphins to an undefeated season in 1972?” as opposed to “who was the winning QB in Super Bowl XXII?”.

If leading the Dolphins to the Super Bowl were not enough, Earl Morral played with the Dolphins until 1976. He wears two Super Bowl rings, the 2nd being from 1973 of course. He would spend ’73 -’76 tutoring the next great back-up QB in Miami. Don Strock.

Don Strock is not a name likely to be conjured up by fans who don’t follow the Dolphins. He led no teams to undefeated seasons. He led no teams to the Super Bowl. Yet ask Dan Marino his opinion, and he likely will tell you that he couldn’t have done it without him. In fact, during his HOF acceptance speech, Dan said, “As a quarterback I couldn’t have had a better teammate to learn from or a better friend”. To the Marino kids, he is “Uncle Don“.

Don Strock played in Miami from 1973 – 1987. Which means that he played behind Bob Griese, David Woodley, and Dan Marino. The only 3 QBs to start a Super Bowl for the Dolphins. It also means that he played 3 years with Earl Morral who retired in 1976 and also wears the Super Bowl VIII Championship ring. The same one that Morral and Griese wear.

To some, Strock is best remembered on the field as the QB who who came off the bench down 24-0 against the SD Chargers to tie the game in the 3rd quarter. The Dolphins would eventually lose what most consider one of the most exciting games in NFL history.

To others, Strock is best remembered as the guy who would help make Dan Marino what he was.

So who is the better back-up? The QB without whom, the Dolphins perfect season would be…less than perfect? Or the QB who helped make the greatest QB in Dolphins history…”Great”?

Without either one of those guys, this franchise would not likely have the history that it does today.

The Dolphins search for a franchise QB has lasted 7 years since the retirement in 1999 of Dan Marino.

In the summer of 1972, under the sweltering heat of football training camp, a tradition was born when Earl Morral took the practice field. A simple yet insignificant tradition. It was a tradition of solid and reliable backup QB’s. It was the bridge from one generation of greatness to the next. It was also a tradition that died in 1987 when Don Strock left Miami for Cleveland. The Dolphins could use some of that “tradition” today.

Bob Griese and Dan Marino are linked together by the success of what they did on the field. Both share yellow jackets and HOF induction rings. Where Bob Griese had the luxury of Earl Morral and Don Strock. Don Strock had the luxury of Earl Morral and Bob Griese. In some ways, Dan Marino had the luxury of all 3 through Don Strock.

This is one of those debates that likely cannot be won. It is also one of those rare debates, that really, in the end, should not have a winner. In their own rights, they both were the best. They were both winners.

Super Bowl XXII? That would be Doug Williams. His legacy? The first black QB to win a Super Bowl.