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Miami Dolphins Lose a Piece of Perfection: Former Backup/Starting Quarterback Earl Morrall Passes Away

April 28th, 2014 at 8:40 PM
By Mark H. Stowers

'Aerial View of Miami's Orange Bowl: Miami, Florida' photo (c) 1969, Florida Memory - license:

He was a piece of perfection. He filled in, he started, he backed-up – and he won. Earl Morrall, 79, passed away due to complications from Parkinson's Disease. The number two pick in the 1956 draft out of Michigan State would go on to win two Super Bowls and back up two Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Johnny Unitas in Baltimore and Bob Griese in Miami. Though he was known as a backup throughout his career, when he was called upon to start he did one thing – win.

In Baltimore he filled in for Unitas twice. In 1968 he helped lead the team to a 13-1 record and a league MVP award. That year the team lost to Broadway Joe Namath and the Jets but Morral would fill in again two years later in a Super Bowl win over the Dallas Cowboys. Morrall came to Miami with Don Shula and helped put together the famed undefeated and perfect team season in 1972. During that season, Griese broke his leg and Morrall filled in taking the team to the playoffs. Griese returned and Morrall took his place on the bench with no problems.

Morrall played 21 seasons and was drafted No. 2 overall by the San Francisco 49ers and subsequently traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

He was selected to a Pro Bowl with the Steelers but was quickly dealt once again, this time to the Detroit Lions. He continued to make stops throughout the NFL, landing with the New York Giants, Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins. At the age of 41, Morrall became the oldest quarterback to win an NFL game and his career spanned three decades. The backup also punted and kicked in his NFL career. There is a movement to have the Comeback Player of the Year award named in his honor.


Tags: Football, Miami, Miami Dolphins, NFL

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