Throughout Miami Dolphins history we regularly refer to Don Shula or Dan Marino but travel back further to see why George Wilson isn’t given enough credit.
If we travel back to 1966 to live through some Miami Dolphins history, we may be surprised to learn about the contributions fo George Wilson, Sr. to the Dolphins organization and why he may have had as much to do with Don Shula’s success in the early ’70s as Shula himself.
In 1966, the franchise that Joe Robbie and Danny Thomas brought to South Florida took the field and George Wilson, Sr. was the team’s first head coach. We all know that history and earlier today, we discussed the connection between Wilson and Shula. We also told you to check back, so here we are to give you some more insight into Wilson and why he may have had as much to do with Shula’s success as Shula. Well, not quite but you will see where some might think so, including Wilson.
As Miami Dolphins fans we tend to view history a little differently than what it sometimes actually was. In 1966, Wilson started Dick Wood at quarterback but in 1967, Wilson drafted Bob Griese in the first round of the draft and Griese went on to become a Hall of Fame player. He wasn’t the only one.
We tend to give credit to Don Shula for some of the best players in Dolphin’s history and while he most assuredly developed them, he didn’t draft them. In some cases, he didn’t even bring them to Miami.
The 1966 draft wasn’t great for Wilson and his best selection that draft was receiver Howard Twilley who was taken in the 12th round. Twilley was a solid contributor for the Dolphins under Don Shula lasting until 1976 before leaving the NFL.
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Things got a lot better in 1967. Wilson drafted Bob Griese and Larry Seiple. Seiple was a versatile utility player who could punt, pass, kick, and play tight-end and running back. He would be a big part of the 1972 perfect season run.
In 1968, Wilson’s success continued. He drafted Larry Csonka in round one, Dick Anderson in round three, and Jim Kiick in round five. In 1969, he added defensive end standout Bill Stanfill in round one, Mercury Morris in round three, and DB Lloyd Mumphord in round 16.
Wilson drafted two Hall of Fame players and some could argue that Stanfill is also deserving as well. After he was fired by Robbie, Wilson told members of the media that Shula was given a stacked team when he took over. Maybe that was somewhat true. Wilson also told media that it was he who convinced Carroll Rosenbloom to hire Shula. Shula was hired by Wilson in Detroit with the Lions.
Wilson and Shula had some bad blood early on but it eventually dissipated. But it wasn’t just draft picks that Wilson gave Shula to work with.
In 1969, Wilson traded CB Mack Lamb to the Chargers for future Hall of Fame guard, Larry Little. A few months earlier, he traded two players and a 5th round draft pick to the Patriots for future Hall of Fame LB Nick Buoniconti. In January 1970, Wilson traded the third overall pick in that draft to Cleveland for Hall of Fame wide receiver, Paul Warfield. Shula would be hired a couple of months later.
The Miami Dolphins have eight players in the Hall of Fame that played primarily for the Dolphins. Of those eight players, five of them were brought to Miami by George Wilson. While he may not have coached them to their potential, he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves.
Don Shula elevated these players to HOF status including others like Dwight Stephenson and Dan Marino and Jim Langer, but Wilson deserved some credit as well for getting five of them to the Dolphins to begin with.