Jim Langer, the Pro Football Hall of Famer who anchored the offensive line for the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the NFL’s only undefeated Super Bowl championship team, has died at age 71.
Langer, a native of Minnesota, suffered a sudden heart-related problem and died Thursday at a hospital in Coon Rapids, Minn., his wife, Linda, said, according to the Associated Press.
“Jim was a true success story,” legendary Dolphins coach Don Shula said in a statement posted on the team's website. “He joined us as a free agent in 1970 and ended up as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He was the steadying force in the middle of an offensive line which was key to our championship teams.
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“But Jim was more than a great football player,” Shula added. “He was one of the finest human beings that I have ever had the opportunity to know and also to coach. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word. He was loved and respected by everyone who knew him. My thoughts are with his wife, Linda, and their children.”
“Jim was more than a great football player. … He was a gentleman in every sense of the word. He was loved and respected by everyone who knew him.”
Langer’s death followed the passing of Dolphins teammates Nick Buoniconti last month at age 78 and Bob Kuechenberg in January at age 71.
Those names – as well as others, including those of quarterback Bob Griese, running backs Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris, and wide receiver Paul Warfield – became known to millions of fans in the 1970s as the Dolphins appeared in three straight Super Bowls.
The Miami club lost to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl VI, then won two consecutive titles, defeating the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII and the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl VIII.
The club that defeated Washington was the one that went 14-0 during the regular season, then 3-0 during the postseason to become the NFL’s first undefeated championship team – and Langer played every offensive down along the way.
He went on to appear in six consecutive Pro Bowls, a testament to his tenacity at one of the game’s toughest positions.
Langer was voted the Dolphins' most valuable player in 1975, and played in the NFL until 1981, spending his final two seasons with the Vikings in his home state. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1987.
Aside from his achievements on the football field, Langer was also known for his outspokenness.
In August 2013, Langer was one of at least three members of the undefeated Dolphins squad who boycotted a White House event for the team hosted by former President Barack Obama.
Langer said he and teammates Manny Fernandez and Bob Kuechenberg skipped the event because they opposed Obama’s policies.
“We've got some real moral compass issues in Washington,” Langer said at the time. “I don’t want to be in a room with those people and pretend I'm having a good time. I can't do that. If that [angers] people, so be it.”
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Langer is a member of the Dolphins’ Honor Roll and is included on the team’s Walk of Fame and list of the franchise’s 50 best players ever, according to the Herald.
He is survived by his wife Linda and four children. A specific cause of death was not released, the newspaper reported.