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Miami Dolphins All-Time Top 100 Players: 5. Larry Little

Larry Little was a seven-time All-NFL team selectee, a five-time Pro Bowler, a three-time winner of the AFC Lineman of the Year award, a two-time Super Bowl Champion, and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1993.

Little was a 6'1" offensive lineman from Groveland, GA. He played collegiate ball with the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats, going undrafted after graduating with the Class of 1967. The San Diego Chargers signed him to a free agent contract, and he would appear in 24 games over the next two seasons, starting four at offensive guard. Miami traded for Little prior to the 1969 season. According to Sport magazine:

I didn't particularly like the trade, the Dolphins weren't much then."

After wearing the 73 jersey with San Diego, Little would don the number 66 jersey, wearing it throughout his Dolphin's career. After starting 10 of the 12 games in which he appeared in 1969, he was one of four Dolphins selected to play in the AFL Pro Bowl. Miami posted an AFL worst 3-10-1 record on the season. The Dolphins finished near the bottom of the AFL in nearly every offensive category. The team did manage to post an AFL third-best 131 passing first downs on the season.

As the NFL absorbed the AFL for the 1970 season, Little joined the starting lineup at right guard full time, starting every game. He was for the first time elected as the AFC lineman of the year. Miami rushed for an AFC best 2,082 yards as Little helped open up holes in the middle for fullback Larry Csonka (874 yards) while leading the sweep for halfbacks Jim Kiick (658 yards) and Mercury Morris (409 yards). At 10-4, Miami qualified for their first ever postseason, a 21-14 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

In 1971, Little again started every game for Miami at right guard, making his second Pro Bowl (one of seven Dolphins) and earning his first All-NFL selection, as well as earning the AFC Lineman of the Year Award for the second year running. Miami's offense pounded out an NFL leading 2,429 ground yards, again led by Csonka (1,051 yards), Kiick (738 yards), and Morris (315 yards). Miami finished the season tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for the first AFC seed with a 10-3-1 record. The teams opened the playoffs in Arrowhead Stadium due to a tiebreaker. Miami won what would become the longest game in NFL history, 27-24 in two overtimes. They then escorted the defending NFL champion Baltimore Colts out of the proceedings with a 21-0 whitewash in the AFC Championship game. Miami lost Super Bowl VI, 24-3 to the Dallas Cowboys.

1972 would see Little start every game in Miami's legendary 17-0 season. He was one of nine Dolphins named to the Pro Bowl, and also earned his second consecutive selection to the All-NFL First Team and his third straight AFC Lineman of the Year Award. Miami's offense led the NFL and established an all-time record by gaining 2,960 ground yards, scoring 26 touchdowns. The Dolphins also featured two running backs breaking the 1,000 yards mark, with Larry Csonka gaining 1,117 and Mercury Morris gaining exactly 1,000. The team also led the league with 385 total points scored. Miami gained an additional 575 rushing yards through their three playoff matchups, culminating in their first Super Bowl victory, beating the Washington Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII.

In 1973, Little started each of the 13 games in which he appeared as the Dolphins finished with an AFC best 12-2 record. He was one of 12 Dolphins selected to play in the Pro Bowl, his fourth, and also earned his third consecutive All-NFL first team selection. Led by Little, Langer and Kuechenberg allowing an NFL low 13 sacks, Dolphins quarterbacking threw an AFC low 12 interceptions, while leading the league with 5.3 yards gained per offensive play. Miami's 2,521 rushing yards ranked third in the NFL. In the three playoff victories, Miami piled on an additional 689 yards on the ground, winning by a combined score of 85-33. They won their second consecutive Super Bowl, 24-7 over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl VIII.

Little started all 14 games for Miami in 1974 at right guard, earning his fifth Pro Bowl bid, and fourth in a row. Additionally, he also was named to the All-NFL first team for the fourth time in a row. Miami's offense continued to feast on the opposition, finishing third in the NFL with 327 points scored. The Dolphins led the NFL with 25 rushing touchdowns, finishing with an AFC East title winning 11-3 record.

In 1975, again started every Miami game. He missed the Pro Bowl, but still managed to earn his fifth All-NFL first team selection in a row. The team rushed to an NFL fourth best 2,500 yards on the ground. The pass protection offered quarterback Bob Griese resulted in an NFL third best 23 sacks on the season, allowing the team to finish second in the NFL with a 60.9% completion rate. The team finished 10-4, missing the playoffs for the first time since 1969.

1976 would see Little start 14 games for Miami, including four at right tackle. Little was not bestowed any postseason accolades for the first time since the AFL/NFL merger, nor were the Dolphins involved in postseason activities after posting a disappointing 6-8 record.

In 1977, Little started all 14 games at right guard for the Dolphins. He earned a spot on the All-NFL first team as voted by the Pro Football Writers association. Miami went 10-4, their 313 points scored placed them second in the NFL. They also placed second in the league with 22 passing touchdowns, finishing with a fifth best 2,366 rushing yards. Miami's quarterback rating of 86.0 led the NFL (Griese finished at 87.8).

In 1978, the NFL expanded to a 16 game season. Little started 15 of them, appearing in the 16th off the bench. He was named a second team All-NFL player as Miami earned a wildcard berth with an 11-5 record. Miami finished in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories, but in an example of adding up to more than just a sum of its parts finished with an NFL second best 372 points scored. Miami's collective QBR of 82.9 also finished second in the NFL.

Little started 14 of 15 of the games in which he appeared in 1979, as the Dolphins finished with an AFC East title winning 10-6 record. He would later start three of his five games in his final NFL season, 1980. He totalled 153 starts in his 159 Miami regular season contests. Coach Don Shula once said of Little,

(Little is) a real inspiration, not just for the way he performs but also for his influence on our younger players.

After retiring, Little coached Bethune Cookman for nine seasons, later stepping in as the head coach of North Carolina Central University for six seasons. Little was a member of the NFL Hall of Fame Class of 1993, and was also that season inducted into the Dolphin's Ring of Honor.

Two Minutes of Pro Football History: Nothing "Little" about him (via ProFootballHOF)

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.