FanPost

Historical Perspective I - 1965 and 1966

So, I thought it would be fun to go through the Dolphins history during the offseason.  This has been a thought of mine since I first came to the site and I posted the Phins' Pro Bowlers for the last decade or so.  Hope you enjoy this look at our team as much as I enjoyed researching it.

I do need to thank pro-football-reference.com, miamidolphins.com, and wikipedia.org for a lot of this information, and I am sure there are other websites I got info from and can't remember them right now.

Well, please enjoy: 

1965

            The year was 1965.  The American Football League had been in existence since March 1959, when league founder Lamar Hunt met with several other potential - and failed - buyers of the NFL's Chicago Cardinals.  The original eight teams began play in 1960 and were broken into two divisions; the Eastern Division consisting of the Boston Patriots, the Buffalo Bills (owner Ralph Wilson had originally planned to place his team in Miami - but the city rejected his plan), the Houston Oilers, and the New York Titans/Jets, and the Western Division with the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs (the Texans were forced to move in 1963 after the NFL expanded with the Dallas Cowboys in 1960- again a leading contender for this movement was Miami, but the city was not ready for a team), Denver Broncos, Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers, and Oakland Raiders (the original eighth team was the Minnesota Vikings, however, the NFL promised a franchise to the Vikings owners, and they became an NFL franchise, allowing Oakland to be selected to give the LA Chargers a California rival).

            Starting to challenge the NFL, and prove that it was a legitimate league, the AFL began to look at expansion for the 1966 season.  On March 3, 1965, AFL Commissioner, Joe Foss met with Minnesota lawyer Joseph Robbie and advises Robbie to apply for the expansion franchise.  Robbie began the application process and on May 6th, he met with Miami, Florida Mayor Robert King High to discuss the availability of the Orange Bowl for an AFL team.  During this meeting, Mayor High agreed to formally invite the AFL to the city of Miami.

            Following the receipt of the Miami invitation and Joe Robbie's franchise application, the eight AFL owners voted to approve a one team expansion for 1966 on June 7, 1965.  On August 16, 1965, the first ever AFL expansion franchise was awarded to Joseph Robbie and TV actor Danny Thomas for $7.5 million. 

            Joe Robbie immediately held a "Name the Team" competition in Miami, with more than 19,000 entries being received with over 1,000 name possibilities.  Twelve local media members decided on the team name "Dolphins" from 12 finalists, including Mariners, Marauders, Mustangs, Missiles, Moons, Sharks, Suns, Stingrays, and Panthers.    Mrs. Robert Swanson of West Miami won lifetime tickes to the Dolphins when her nickname entry also correctly predicted the final score of the 1965 Notre Dame/University of Miami game, a 0-0 tie.

            The AFL Collegiate Draft was held on November 27, 1965.  The Miami Dolphins draft choices were:

1a

x-Jim Grabowski (1)

RB

Illinois

1b

Rick Norton (2)

QB

Kentucky

2

Frank Emanuel (11)

LB

Tennessee

3

x-Larry Gagner (20)

G

Florida

4

x-Dick Lefridge (29)

RB

West Virginia

5

Grady Bolton (38)

DT

Miss. St.

6

x-Ed Weisacosky (47)

LB

Miami (Fla.)

7

x-Don Hansen (56)

LB

Illinois

8

Bob Petrella (65)

S

Tennessee

9

x-Bill Matan (74)

DE

Kansas St.

10

x-Pat Killorin (83)

C

Syracuse

11

Sam Price (92)

RB

Illinois

12

Howard Twilley (101)

WR

Tulsa

13

x-Ken Kramer (110)

TE

Minnesota

14

Phil Scoggin (119)

P

Texas A&M

15

Jerry Oliver (128)

T

SW Texas

16

Don Lorenz (137)

DE

Stephen F. Austin

17

x-Mike Bender (146)

G

Arkansas

18

x-Rick Kestner (155)

E

Kentucky

19

Doug Moreau (164)

TE

Louisiana St.

20

Jon Tooker (173)

CB

Adams State

x-signed with National Football League

            The Dolphins also selected the following personnel in the subsequent AFL Redshirted Draft:

1

John Roderick

WR

So. Methodist

2

Harold Fulford

WR

Auburn

3

Jack Clancy

WR

Michigan

4

x-Jim Mankins

RB

Florida St.

5

x-Fritz Greenlee

TE

Arizona

6

Bill Darnall

WR

North Carolina

7

Don Williams

DE

Wofford

8

Jon Brittenum

QB

Arkansas

9

x-Craig Baynham

WR

Georgia Tech

10

x-Randy Winkler

T

Tarleton St.

11

Kai Anderson

C

Illinois

x-signed with National Football League

            Finishing off the 1965 year, on December 16th Miami Dolphins Limited was organized as a Florida limited partnership with Joe Robbie as the Managing General Partner and Danny Thomas Sports, Inc. as the other general partner.

1966

            January 15, 1966 continued the building of the Miami Dolphins, with the AFL Expansion Draft.  The Dolphins drafted 31 players for all 8 AFL teams:

FROM BOSTON

Eddie Wilson

QB

Arizona

Billy Neighbors

G

Alabama

Ross O'Hanley

S

Boston College

Jack Rudolph

LB

Georgia Tech

FROM BUFFALO

Billy Joe

FB

Villanova

Bo Roberson

WR

Cornell

x-Jim Davidson

T

Ohio State

Howard Simpson

DT

Auburn

FROM DENVER

John McGeever

S

Auburn

Ed Cooke

DE

Maryland

Tom Erlandson

LB

Washington St.

Tom Nomina

DT

Miami (Ohio)

FROM HOUSTON

Norm Evans

T

Texas Christian

Tom Goode

C

Miss. State

Jack Spikes

FB

Texas Christian

Maxie Williams

T

SE Louisiana

FROM KANSAS CITY

Al Dotson

DT

Grambling

Mel Branch

DE

Louisiana St

Frank Jackson

WR

So. Methodist

Ron Caveness

LB

Arkansas

FROM NEW YORK JETS

Wahoo McDaniel

LB

Oklahoma

Willie West

S

Oregon

Mike Hudock

C

Miami (Fla.)

LaVerne Torczon

DE

Nebraska

FROM OAKLAND

Rich Zecher

DT

Utah State

Dick Wood

QB

Auburn

Ken Rice

G

Auburn

Gene Mingo

K

No College

FROM SAN DIEGO

Dave Kocourek

TE

Wisconsin

Ernie Park

G

MacMurray

Jimmy Warren

CB

Illinois

Dick Westmoreland

CB

N.C. A&T

x-retired

            On January 29th, Joe Robbie announced the hiring of George Wilson as the team's first Head Coach.  Wilson, an alumnus of Northwestern University, played for the Chicago Bears from 1937 to 1946, including four NFL Championships.  In 1957 he had been named the Head Coach of the NFL's Detroit Lions, winning the NFL Championship that same year (the Lions last championship).  The Lions replaced him as a Head Coach after the 1964 season, after which he served as an assistant coach for the Washington Redskins for one year before assuming the helm of the Dolphins.

            The Dolphins continued to organize through the next few months, preparing for the summer's training camp.  However, on June 8th, a major announcement would overshadow the start of training camps the following month.  The "upstart" AFL had successfully challenged the NFL's dominance and a merger had been negotiated.  The merger included a Common Draft between the two leagues and a Championship Game (eventually named the Super Bowl), both to start in 1967, with the full merger of all AFL teams (the league would expand one more time, with the Cincinnati Bengals beginning play in 1968) in 1970.

            The Dolphins opened their first training camp in St. Petersburg Beach on July 5, 1966.  Eighty-three players reported for that initial training camp.  On August 7th, camp was moved from St. Petersburg to St. Andrews School in Boca Raton. 

            The Miami Dolphins played their first game on September 2, 1966 at the Orange Bowl in Miami against the Oakland Raiders.  The game started with some fireworks, as Joe Auer returned the opening kickoff 95-yards for the Dolphins' first touchdown.  However, the Raiders would prevail 23-14.

            The Dolphins would get their first franchise win a little over a month later.  Again in the Orange Bowl, the Dolphins would beat the Denver Broncos 24-7 on October 16, 1966.  A week later, the Dolphins would win again, this time earning the franchise's first road win, with a 20-13 victory over the Houston Oilers at Rice Stadium. 

            The Dolphins would finish the season with a 3&11 record.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Phinsider's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of The Phinsider writers or editors.

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