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Miami Dolphins: the Formative Years

By Christine Alexis

With football season underway, it’s a good time to consider the history of one of the sport’s iconic teams—the Miami Dolphins. They grew rapidly during their first six years, laying the foundation for their time-honored reputation.

In 1966, their inaugural season in the American Football League, the Dolphins held training camp in St. Petersburg Beach with a total of 83 athletes. They opened the regular season with a loss to Oakland at the Orange Bowl, with running back Joe Auer scoring their first touchdown. The Dolphins finished the season with a 3-11 record.

Next year wasn’t much better. They went 4-10 but set a single-game attendance record (68,125) when they played Baltimore. In 1968, they went 5-8-1, with quarterback Bob Griese, running back Jim Kiick and wide receiver Karl Noonan named to the AFL All-Star Team.

1969 brought the announcement of a merger between the AFL and the National Football League, effective the following season. The Dolphins went 3-10-1 and fired coach George Wilson. Both events set the stage for major changes. New coach Don Shula—who famously said, “The only way I know to win is through hard work”—led the team to a 10-4 record, and its first playoff appearance, in 1970.

Success accelerated. The Dolphins went 10-3-1 in 1971, ranking first in rushing offense and fourth in overall offense, and reached Super Bowl VI. They lost to Dallas, but seven players were named to the Pro Bowl—ultimately laying the groundwork for the historic 1972 season, in which the Dolphins posted a perfect record and won a Super Bowl title.

The Dolphins’ first six years clearly were formative, particularly under Shula, who made strategic player trades to achieve success. “The one thing I know is that you win with good people,” he said. With that time mind, here’s hoping the 2017 season is another one for the books.

Information for this feature is courtesy of the HistoryMiami Archives & Research Center, which is open to the public and contains more than 1.5 million images of southeast Florida, the entire state and the Caribbean from 1883 to the present. For information or to visit HistoryMiami, visit historymiami.org.

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.