Bob Griese, the Miami Dolphins’ Hall of Fame quarterback, talks about playing in the 1972 AFC Championship Game after returning from a dislocated ankle injury similar to that of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott on The Game before the Money Podcast.
A Familiar Story
When I first heard that Dak Prescott suffered a dislocated ankle in 2020, I immediately thought of Bob Griese and the dislocated ankle and broken leg that Griese suffered in 1972.
Prescott, of course, is the mobile, athletic, and exciting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. He’s great at extending plays and scrambling for yardage. Prescott sustained a dislocated ankle and compound fracture in Week Five of the 2020 NFL season. Comparatively, Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Bob Griese suffered a dislocated ankle and broken leg in Week Five of the 1972 NFL season.
Dolphins Quarterback, Bob Griese, Before His Injury
Griese’s injury is often overlooked because that 1972 Dolphins team went undefeated and Bob Griese is synonymous with those Miami Dolphins. Griese, however, missed a lot of that season, recovering from the dislocated ankle and broken leg.
Before that dislocated ankle, Bob Griese actually ran pretty well. The NFL didn’t feature scrambling as much back then, but Bob Griese rushed for 230 yards his second year in the league, in 1968. Those 230 yards came in a 14-game regular season in a lineup with two running backs who combined for over 1,000 yards that season, future Hall of Famer Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick.
So, Griese had really good mobility for a quarterback in those days. He averaged over 5.5 yards a carry in that 1968 season. By comparison, Dak Prescott had only one year of averaging more than that before the 2021 NFL season.
When I interviewed Bob Griese for the book The Game Before the Money: Voices of the Men Who Built the NFL, he told me that he ran less once the Dolphin’s offensive line improved. But early in Bob Griese’s career, his rushing attempts per game stand similar to Dak Prescott’s. In 1970 and 1971, Bob Griese placed fourth on the team’s rushing attempt list, behind Miami’s three-finned monster of a running game with Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris.
Bob Griese and the Miami Dolphins 1972 NFL Playoffs
So let’s talk about Bob Griese recovering from that injury. He actually came back in 1972 and played in the AFC Championship Game and in Super Bowl VII. Earl Morrall played quarterback in Griese’s absence during the 1972 regular season and early in the playoffs.
Morrall threw for only 88 yards in the Dolphin’s divisional playoff win against Cleveland. The next week, the Dolphins and Steelers were knotted in a 7-7 tie at halftime during the 1972 AFC Championship Game. Miami coach Don Shula hoped that his star quarterback could return and supercharge the offense.
Griese spoke about that decision made at halftime in the 1972 AFC Championship Game, from when I interviewed him for the book The Game Before the Money.
“Coach Shula had seen me in practice….I was practicing pretty well. I actually had an advantage on a lot of the guys because I wasn’t practicing every day and I wasn’t playing in the games. I wasn’t worn down physically and mentally. I wasn’t bruised from taking sacks. So, you know, when he came at halftime and said, ‘Are you ready to go?’ I said, ‘Yeah.'”
In the second half of the 1972 AFC Championship Game, Bob Griese threw a 52-yard pass to another Hall of Famer, Paul Warfield, which was likely the biggest offensive play of the game. That play led to a Jim Kiick rushing touchdown.
Miami won the 1972 AFC Championship Game at Pittsburgh, 21-17. That game stands as the only time that the Steelers lost a home playoff game in the 1970s.
Griese went on to lead the Dolphins to victory in Super Bowl 7. He led the Dolphins to a championship again the next year, as Miami overpowered the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl 8. So, Bob Griese quarterbacked the Dolphins to two-straight Super Bowl victories after dislocating his ankle against the San Diego Chargers in 1972.
Bob Griese After Injury
Griese recovered so well from his injury that many people are surprised to learn that he missed several games of the Dolphin’s undefeated 1972 season. And of course, not only did he win back-to-back Super Bowls after that injury, he enjoyed a Hall of Fame career. Griese didn’t carry the ball as much after the injury, but again, he played behind a tremendous offensive line later in his career.
In 1976, however, Griese carried the ball more often, comparable to his amount in the 1970 and 71 seasons. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry, which is actually better than one of Dak Prescott’s seasons before Prescott’s injury and comparable to a second.
Will the Cowboys Win the Super Bowl with Dak Prescott?
Griese was in his sixth NFL season when he suffered the dislocated ankle. Dak Prescott was in his fifth year, so they were at similar points in their careers. Both are team leaders with a strong desire to play and win. Griese greatly looked forward to returning after his injury and Prescott certainly shared that attitude.
On social media, Prescott was upbeat and confident in his ability to return to the game and perform at a high level. Based on Bob Griese’s experience with a dislocated ankle, there’s a great chance that Prescott can return to the field as the player we’ve known him to be, and he’s shown signs of that early in the 2021 Dallas Cowboys season.
One big difference between the two careers before the injuries is that Bob Griese led the Dolphins to a Super Bowl before his injury. The Miami Dolphins played the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl VI, a game the Cowboys won 24-3.
Prescott led the Cowboys to the NFL playoffs in 2016 and in 2018. He quarterbacked Dallas to a playoff win over the Seahawks in 2018 but hasn’t advanced the team past the divisional round. The team, however, appears to buy into his quarterbacking leadership, an all-important component of winning championships.
We can’t predict with any certainty whether Dak Prescott and the Cowboys will win a Super Bowl. From a historical perspective, however, we can point to Bob Griese’s recovery from a similar injury at a similar place in Griese’s career and deem it very possible.
You can listen to Bob Griese share about his injury and learn more by listening to our football history podcast, available in the player below or on your favorite podcast app.Embed from Getty Images