Eric Laakso was a 6'4", 285 pound offensive lineman from Danielson, Connecticut. He attended Tulane College, playing with the Green Wave as an offensive tackle from 1975-77. He was honored as the Tulane Athlete of the Year in 1976-77.
Miami selected Laakso in the fourth round of the 1978 NFL Draft with the 106th overall pick. He wore number 65 as a rookie, and appeared in all 16 games off the bench for Miami, filling in wherever he was needed. He helped pave the way for running back Delvin Williams to gain 1,258 yards and the Dolphins to an 11-5 record, ultimately falling short in the AFC Wildcard game, 17-9 to the Houston Oilers.
More after the jump.
1979 would see Laakso don the number 68 jersey, which he would wear for the rest of his NFL career. Unfortunately, he was limited by injuries to 10 games, starting two as the Dolphins went 10-6, winning the division but losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divsional matchup, 34-14.
In 1980, Laakso started all 16 games at right tackle. He was instrumental in limiting opposing defenses to 31 sacks while helping Miami's running attack by committee gain 1,876 total yards. Unfortunately, the Dolphins finished 8-8, missing out on the playoffs.
Miami went 11-4-1 in 1981, losing in the Divisional Playoff round to the San Diego Chargers, 41-38 in overtime. Laakso started again started all 16 games, as running backs Tony Nathan and Andra Franklin combined for 1,493 yards and 12 touchdowns. Pass protection was also still good, as the O-line only allowed 30 sacks.
Laakso started all nine regular season games in the strike-shortened 1982 season. The team cruised through the regular season with a 7-2 record, clinching home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs. Miami demolished the opposition in three playoff games with a combined score of 76-26 before losing Super Bowl XVII to the Washington Redskins, 27-17.
In 1983, Laakso started 14 of 15 games for the Dolphins, as the team finished 12-4, winning the division but losing to the Seattle Seahawks in the Divisional Round. Franklin and Nathan rushed for a combined 1,431 yards with 11 touchdowns as Laakso was selected to the Sporting News All-NFL First Team.
In 1984, Laakso's season was cut short due to a knee injury, limiting him to four starts. The Dolphins finished 14-2 before losing Super Bowl XIX to the San Francisco 49ers, 38-16. Although he rehabbed the knee, the injury would prove to be career ending.
Laakso played in a total of 86 games, starting 61 at right tackle. He left us too young, dying of natural causes on December 27, 2010 at the age of 54.