It’s time for Bob Kuechenberg to rep Miami Dolphins in the Hall of Fame

Miami Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese (12) talks with guard Bob Kuechenberg Mandatory Credit: Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports
Miami Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese (12) talks with guard Bob Kuechenberg Mandatory Credit: Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports /

Last week it was announced that Bob Kuechenberg is a 2023 Senior Committee finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s long overdue.

Joining Kooch in the HOF finalist list is Mark Clayton and while I love Clayton, Kooch is the one guy that stands out more than any other as a player that should be in the Hall and is not.

Each year we listen to the voters skip over Zach Thomas in favor of guys like Tony Boselli and we listen to HOF members remind us that Thomas is more than deserving. Ask Brian Urlacher. But lost in all of this annual talk is one of the longest-tenured offensive linemen in NFL history. Lost in all of this is a guy who should have made it into the Hall decades ago.

The Senior Committee has a chance to right a big wrong. For years, Kooch was summarily dismissed because he wasn’t a butt-kissing media whore. In fact, he was quite the opposite, critical of those that held his name in their hands.

It is hard to imagine the reality of a Hall of Fame without Bob Kuechenberg but it is a reality that we know all too well. Kooch excelled at both guard and tackle. He came into the league in 1970 and exited the league in 1983. He made his first of six Pro Bowl’s in 1974 and his last in 1983, his final NFL season.

Kooch spent 14 seasons in the NFL and played in all three of the Dolphins’ Super Bowls in the 1970s. He also played in one of two of Miami’s trips to the game in the 80s. Miami went back to the Super Bowl in 1984, the season after he retired. He is considered by most as the best player in NFL history to wear number 67.

Bob Kuechenberg
Bob Kuechenberg (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

Consider this, Kuechenberg blocked for Bob Griese, Earl Morral, David Woodley, and Dan Marino in his career. Reliable? Yes. He started 176 of his 196 games.

Kuechenberg’s resume is on par or better with many of the current offensive linemen enshrined in the HOF and his head and shoulders above that of Tony Boselli who will be inducted in August.

It’s a shame that it will take the Senior Committee to get him in the HOF. He should have been put in by the time the 1990s rolled around. In his bid for the Hall, Kooch was a finalist 8 times during his eligibility seasons. His last came in 2009. He famously said after missing the election in 2009 “Now you get thrown into the swamp”. Indeed he was.

For more than a decade, the Senior Committee was able to nominate only two candidates each year, which was expanded over the last couple of years but it still is no easy road for any of the long awaiting former players who missed out during their normal eligibility.

Not working in Kooch’s favor was the fact that both Jim Langer and Larry Little were already in the Hall of Fame from that 1972 team and then he watched Dwight Stephenson get elected as well in 1998 a year before Kuechenberg’s final year of eligibility.

Now, Kuechenberg is drawing interest from the electors. Having passed away in 2019, Kooch will never get to see his induction if it happens. Could he make it into the HOF in 2023? It will be interesting and if he does, maybe we get a two-for-one Miami Dolphins entry with Zach Thomas also making it finally.

As for Mark Clayton, deserving as he may be, I would have to put another offensive linemen ahead of him on the waitlist, Richmond Webb.