SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
These days the team that wins the Super Bowl usually counts on meeting with the president of the United States. But that wasn't the case when the Miami Dolphins went undefeated in 1972. So, early this week 31 members of that record-setting team finally got their chance to meet this president, more than 40 years later.
Their coach, hall of famer Don Shula joins us. Coach, thanks very much for being with us.
DON SHULA: Yes, glad to be with you.
SIMON: Any idea how this trip came about?
SHULA: Somebody brought it to the president's attention that we had never been honored at the White House and, you know, back when we did it in 1972, that wasn't a practice to bring a team in. So somebody, I think it was Marv Fleming that played on that perfect season theme, had some connections and brought it to the president's attention. He says, wow, he says, I want to make sure that I do that.
SIMON: Is there anything fitting in the fact that a Bears' fan brings the Dolphins to the White House to congratulate them?
SHULA: The '85 Bears went on to win the Super Bowl, but the did lose one game that year, so I wanted to make sure that he understood the game that the Bears did lose was to the Miami Dolphins.
SIMON: Yeah, they did win the Super Bowl that year, coach. I do remember that.
SHULA: They did, yeah. They won the Super Bowl.
SIMON: Coach, but didn't President Nixon occasionally call you up with plays?
SHULA: He spent a lot of time in Miami at Kivas Cay(ph). They called it the Kivas Cay White House. I heard that he was a big football fan. And then he, at times, would call me and just talk football. And one of the calls that he made, he suggested a play that we run, and that was the slant pass to Paul Warfield, who is a very gifted wide receiver. And I said that's a great idea. And it was run several times and with a lot of success.
SIMON: Well, I guess you have President Nixon to thank for it, huh?
SIMON: I got to tell you, reading the stories this week, I was especially moved to read about the reaction of Garo Yepremian. We have to tell his story briefly. He was your field goal kicker. He was about 5-foot, what, 8 or 9.
SHULA: At the most.
SIMON: And from Cyprus, and the story always was that he'd been a tie maker.
SHULA: Oh, yes. That was his business, and after he kicked the first field goal for us after I picked him up on waivers, he came out with a tie the next day, or maybe two days later, with Garo No. 1 on it. And I said, Garo, you only kicked one field goal for us. It's a little early to declare that you are number one.
SIMON: What's it like for you when a team will begin the season by winning eight or 10 games and then immediately people begin to talk about your 1972 Miami Dolphins?
SHULA: You know, when they talk about excellence, it's nice that you're being used as an example. I mean, it can't get any better than that.
SIMON: Did your Dolphins give President Obama a gift?
SHULA: We gave President Obama an autographed jersey of being a perfect season team. And he was very appreciative of it. He was so gracious, and it was such a great experience to think about getting invited to the White House and spending time with the president of the United States and him talking about, you know, that perfect season in 1972.
SIMON: Yeah. Coach Shula, thanks so much for speaking with us.
SHULA: Yeah. It's a pleasure being with us. And it's always nice to talk about, you know, those great memories. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.