NFL: New Jersey native, Super Bowl champion Jim Kiick passes away at 73

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The nine-year NFL veteran starred at Boonton High School before partaking in the Miami Dolphins’ Super Bowl runs in the 1970s.

New Jersey native and former NFL running back Jim Kiick has passed away at 73, the Miami Dolphins announced on Saturday.

A native of Lincoln Park, Kiick starred at Boonton High School, where he was a multi-sport athlete that made the all-Morris County team as a defensive back. He then spent three years at the University of Wyoming, where he led the Cowboys to victory with an MVP performance in the 1966 Sun Bowl, where he put up 177 total yards in a 28-20 win over Florida State. One year later, he was the spark behind Wyoming’s undefeated regular season.



Two years after breaking Floridians’ hearts by running all over the Seminoles, Kiick became a crucial part of the state’s athletic history when the Miami Dolphins chose him in the fifth round (118th overall) of the 1968 NFL/AFL Draft. He and fellow Miami draftee Larry Csonka rekindled a friendship begun at the 1968 College All-Star Game and, along with Mercury Morris, formed a deadly rushing attack. Kiick tallied 3,644 rushing yards and 28 rushing touchdowns over seven seasons in a Dolphins uniform. His nine scores during the 1969 America Football League campaign.

To this day, Kiick ranked fifth in Dolphins history in rushing yardage (3,644) and sixth in rushing touchdowns (28).

Kiick would go on to make a name for himself via big performances in the postseason. Notably, he scored in all playoff contests during Miami’s completion of their perfect season in 1972-73. Kiick touchdowns were the difference in all three wins, including his one-yard score in Super Bowl VII against Washington. Previously, he posted a two-touchdown performance in the AFC Championship Game win in Pittsburgh (won by a 21-17 margin). His score in the divisional round against Cleveland was the last end zone entry of a 20-14 victory. One more Super Bowl score awaited Kiick in the eighth edition against Minnesota, which Miami won 24-7.

Clashes with head coach Don Shula about his Miami role led Kiick to seek a new opportunity in the World Football League. He, Csonka, and fellow Miami champion Paul Warfield spent a year-plus with the Memphis Southmen/Grizzlies (no relation to the NBA team of the same name). The trio were three of the richest WFL players before the league shut down in the middle of its second season in 1975.

Kiick was set to reunite with his good friend Csonka (the Miami media dubbed the pair “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”) with the New York Giants, but the team was wary of the pair’s hard-partying ways. He would go on to play four games over two final NFL seasons with Denver and Washington before retiring in 1978. The dual-threat retired with 6,061 yards from scrimmage, with his best statistical season coming in 1971 (738 rushing yards in 1971, a year that ended with Miami’s first Super Bowl appearance).

After football, Kiick returned to Florida and served as a private investigator in the public defender’s office of Broward County. He routinely appeared at modern Dolphins games and was inducted into the University of Wyoming’s sports Hall of Fame in 1996. The running back was living with dementia at the time of his death.

Kiick is survived by his children Allie and Austin, the former being a tennis pro on the ITF Women’s Circuit.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

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