Mike Kolen, Miami Dolphins Super Bowl champion, dead at 76

Mike Kolen, a two-time Super Bowl champion and member of the Dolphins’ perfect season, died Wednesday, Auburn University announced.

Kolen was 76 years old

He earned All-SEC honors at Auburn during his junior and senior years and led the team in tackles in 16 of the 25 games he started from 1967 to 1969.

In 1969, he became the first recipient of the national Christian Athlete of the Year award.

Kolen was known as a hard-hitting hitter on the field, where he received the nickname “Captain Crunch.”

“I never tried to hurt anyone, but football is a physical game,” he recalled in 2014. “I enjoyed that part. I don’t really appreciate it now, because it all comes home to me. Over the past year and a half, I’ve had a few joint replacements.

“When you start playing as a freshman and play through college and eight years in the NFL, it’s going to happen.”

Mike Kolen spent eight seasons with the Miami Dolphins.

He was selected in the 12th round of the 1970 NFL Draft by the Dolphins and was part of three consecutive AFC title and Super Bowl champion teams.

Kolen, who played for the Dolphins from 1970 to 1977, notably caught Johnny Unitas’ pass in the 1971 AFC title game, a 21-0 Dolphins victory over the Colts.

In the 1972 AFC title game, Kolen intercepted a Terry Bradshaw pass in the final minute to preserve a 21-17 victory over the Steelers.

Two weeks later, the Dolphins completed an undefeated season with a 14-7 victory over Washington.

Billy Kilmer #17 of the Washington Redskins is tackled by Mike Kolen #57 of the Miami Dolphins during Super Bowl VII at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California on January 14, 1973. The Dolphins won the Super Bowl 14-7 . Getty Images

He returns to Auburn each year to present the Mike Kolen Award to Auburn’s top tackler from the previous season.

“It’s been a real pleasure for me,” Kolen said in 2016. “You’re praising a player from the year before who had a big impact on Auburn’s defensive end, being the leading tackler. Being there- down at Auburn, being on the field, it kind of brings back old memories. It’s just a really enjoyable experience and something that I’ve really enjoyed over the years.

Kolen leaves behind his wife, Nancy, and two children.

Linebacker Nick Buoniconti #85 (C) brings up teammates (LR) Bill Stanfill #84, Mike Kolen #57 and Larry Little #66 of the Miami Dolphins defensive line during Super Bowl VIII against the Washington Redskins at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California on January 14, 1973. Focus on sport via Getty Images

“Mike Kolen is one of the finest men I have ever known,” said David Housel, former Auburn athletic director and sports information director. “Being a football player was secondary to Mike Kolen. He is one of the greatest football players Auburn has ever had, but he was so much more. A rock, a lighthouse.

“When I think of Mike Kolen, I think of toughness, competitiveness and a quality of kindness. He was a great football player, but he was a better man.

Kolen ventured into real estate and owned his own business after stepping away from professional football in 1977, according to Auburn.

New York Post

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