White House visits are standard post-championship operating procedure nowadays, but arguably the greatest football team of all time has waited more than 40 years for that privilege.
That will change next week, when the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only NFL team to finish a season undefeated, will finally get their date with POTUS.
“I’m honored that the accomplishments of the 1972 Dolphins are going to be recognized by the President with a ceremony at the White House,” Hall of Fame coach Don Shula said in a statement released by the team. “It is a very special occasion and I know it’s something that all of us will enjoy and remember.”
When the team completed its perfect season with a Super Bowl win over the Redskins on Jan. 14, 1973, then-president Richard Nixon was embroiled in the Watergate scandal (or, as Dolphins running back Mercury Morris told The Associated Press, ”Nixon was too busy calling plays”). The controversy pushed a ceremony to honor a sports team to the back burner, where it remained until representatives for the team raised the idea to President Barack Obama‘s administration recently.
Shula is expected to accompany a stacked roster to Washington that includes Hall of Famers Bob Griese, Nick Buoniconti, Larry Csonka and Paul Warfield, making it likely the only White House visit where the president will be younger than the players.