The Miami Dolphins lost a key member of their championship runs yesterday when former assistant coach Bill Arnsparger passed away. Arnsparger served as the Dolphins defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 1970-1972, then added assistant head coach to his title in 1973. After a three year stint as the head coach of the New York Giants, Arnsparger returned to the Dolphins in 1976, working through the 1983 season, again as the team's assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.
Of the Dolphins' five Super Bowl appearances, Arnsparger was the defensive coordinator for four of them (1971, 1972, 1973, and 1982). He left the team before the 1984 season, with Miami again making a Super Bowl appearance, to become the head coach at LSU.
Following the news of his death, the Miami Dolphins and legendary head coach Don Shula both released statements. The Dolphins' release read:
"Bill Arnsparger was a seminal figure in Dolphins history. Along with Coach Shula and so many other great players and coaches, Bill played a pivotal role in establishing the Dolphins as one of the winningest teams in football and flagship franchises in professional sports. Our hearts and prayers go out to his loved ones and friends during this difficult time."
"I was saddened to learn of the passing of Bill Arnsparger who I thought was one of the greatest defensive coaches in football. He molded two championship units, the No-Names and the Killer B's, and was innovative in the way he used personnel. He pioneered situational substitutions with the "53" defense that changed the way the game was played on that side of the ball. If there was a Hall of Fame for assistant coaches, he would be one of the very first inductees. Mary Anne and I want to extend our condolences to B.J. and the entire family."