The Miami Dolphins on Sunday said that former player Bob Kuechenberg has died.
Kuechenberg, a six-time Pro Bowl player, was drafted in 1969 by the Philadelphia Eagles but would quit, play semi-pro football briefly and then spend the rest of his career with the Dolphins – where he helped the team win two Super Bowl NFL championships under head coach Don Shula.
The 71-year-old former NFL guard attended the University of Notre Dame. He played nearly 200 games in the NFL.
The Dolphins confirmed Kuechenberg died Saturday morning. A cause of death has not yet been released.
Kuechenberg started in every game in the 1972 undefeated season for the Dolphins.
Shula released a statement on Sunday in which he called on the Pro Football Hall of Fame's selection committee to immortalize Kuechenberg in Canton.
"I was sorry to learn of the passing of Bob Kuechenberg, who was not only one of the best players I ever coached, but one of the toughest as well. He was one of the key performers on our championship teams, leading by example every time he stepped on the field," Shula wrote. "That was especially true in Super Bowl VIII, when he dominated Alan Page the entire game despite playing with a broken arm, a performance that was one of the keys to our victory over the Vikings."
Shula said that Kuechenberg was only called for holding 15 times over his 14-year career.
"You could count on Kooch to play well and to play hard," Shula added. "He gave you everything he had every single snap, and that dependability extended throughout his career, missing only a few games during that time."
"I've coached a lot of Hall of Fame players, including a number of offensive linemen, and Kooch was as good as any of them," Shula wrote. "I hope one day he gets that ultimate recognition by being enshrined in Canton – it's an honor long overdue and one he certainly deserves."
Miami Dolphins columnist Andy Cohen wrote that Kuechenberg was "a combination of toughness and resolve, smarts and tenacity, passion and grit."
"There’s a reason he was one of Don Shula’s all-time favorites. They just didn’t make them any tougher than Robert John Kuechenberg," Cohen wrote.