Mike Kolen, two-time Super Bowl champion, member of undefeated Dolphins, dead at 76

Mike Kolen, a two-time Super Bowl champion and a member of the Dolphins’ perfect season, died Wednesday, Auburn University announced.

Kolen was 76 years old

He earned All-SEC honors at Auburn during his junior and senior years and led the team in tackles during 16 of the 25 games he started from 1967-69.

Mike Kolen spent eight seasons with the Miami Dolphins.

In 1969, he became the first recipient of the National Christian Athlete of the Year Award.

Kolen was known as a hard-hitter on the field, where he received the nickname “Captain Crunch.”

“I never tried to hurt anybody, but football is a physical game,” he recalled in 2014. “I enjoyed that part of it. I’m not really enjoying it so much now, because it’s all coming home for me. In the last year and a half I’ve had a couple of joint replacements.

“When you start playing in the first grade and play all the way through college and eight years in the NFL, that’s going to happen.”

He was selected in the 12th round of the 1970 NFL Draft by the Dolphins and was a part of three straight AFC title teams and back-to-back Super Bowl champions.

Billy Kilmer #17 of the Washington Redskins gets tackled by Mike Kolen #57 of the Miami Dolphins during Super Bowl VII at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California, January 14, 1973. The Dolphins won the Super Bowl 14-7. Getty Images

Kolen, who played for the Dolphins from 1970-77, notably picked off Johnny Unitas’ pass in the 1971 AFC title game, a 21-0 Dolphins win over the Colts.

In the 1972 AFC title game, Kolen intercepted a Terry Bradshaw pass in the final minute to preserve a 21-17 win over the Steelers.

Two weeks later, the Dolphins finished an undefeated season with a 14-7 win over Washington.

He returned to Auburn each year to present the Mike Kolen Award to Auburn’s leading tackler from the previous season.

“It’s been a real thrill for me,” Kolen said in 2016. “You’re congratulating a player from the previous year who had a great impact on Auburn’s defensive side of the ball, being the leading tackler. Being there at Auburn, being out on the field, kind of reminds you of some old memories. It’s just a really nice experience, and something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed over the years.”

Kolen leaves behind his wife, Nancy, and two children.

Linebacker Nick Buoniconti #85 (C) pumps up teammates (L-R) Bill Stanfill #84, Mike Kolen #57 and Larry Little #66 of the Miami Dolphins defensive line during Super Bowl VIII against the Washington Redskins at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California on January 14, 1973. Focus on Sport via Getty Images

“Mike Kolen is one of the finest men I’ve ever known,” said former Auburn athletics director and sports information director David Housel. “Being a football player was secondary to Mike Kolen. He’s one of the greatest football players Auburn ever had, but he was much more. A rock, a beacon.

“When I think of Mike Kolen, I think of toughness, competitiveness, and a quality of goodness. He was a great football player but he was a better man.”

Kolen ventured into real estate and owned his own businesses after he stepped away from professional football in 1977, according to Auburn.


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