Dolphins great Bob Kuechenberg dies at 71

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Bob Kuechenberg, a Pro Bowl guard who was a key player on the Dolphins’ 17-0 team in 1972, has died at the age of 71.

Born and raised in Indiana, Kuechenberg stayed close to home and played his college football at Notre Dame, where he played on both the offensive and defensive lines. He played well enough there that he was a fourth-round draft pick of the Eagles in 1969, but he abruptly quit during a training camp that he would later describe as “literally hell.”

When the Eagles cut Kuechenberg he was signed by the Falcons, but they soon cut him, too. He ended up playing a year for a semi-pro team in Chicago before the Dolphins signed him.

With the Dolphins, he became a six-time Pro Bowler who was on that legendary undefeated team, as well as the team that defended the title the next year, and he stayed with the Dolphins until 1983.

Late in his career, he said, he disliked how the NFL changed the rules for holding, allowing offensive linemen to get away with more. Kuechenberg said that made his job easier — too easy, he thought.

”But as a purist, it offends me. That was the midpoint of my career, and all of a sudden you really don`t need to know how to block,” Kuechenberg told the Chicago Tribune.

In retirement, Kuechenberg got into art collecting, which surprised the people who knew him as a fierce competitor who’d usually have dirt or blood on his uniform.

”People find it incongruous that a mastodon offensive lineman can be attracted to the art world,” he said.

Kuechenberg is survived by family including his older brother, former Bears linebacker Rudy Kuechenberg.