MIAMI — Jim Kiick, the versatile running back, who helped the Miami Dolphins reach the NFL’s only perfect season in 1972, died Saturday at the age of 73, following a battle with Alzheimer’s, daughter Allie said.
The former University of Wyoming star was part of a formidable backfield that included his best friend, the Pro Football Hall of Fame back Larry Csonka. They have earned the nickname of Butch and Sundance, inspired by the popular 1969 film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
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Kiick (” Butch “) made the American Football League all-Star team in his first two seasons and played in Miami back-to-back Super Bowl championship teams in 1972-73. Kiick had two touchdowns for the ’72 Dolphins in the AFC championship game, and also scored in the Super Bowl victory that capped their 17-0 season by Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Don Shula.
Shula died on 4 May at the age of 90 years.
Kiick has lived in an assisted living home in recent years. Allie Kiick said that due to the coronavirus, the visitors were not allowed in his room.
“I miss my dad,” she wrote Thursday on Twitter. “It is difficult enough when you’re sitting on the outside of the glass and can do anything to cheer him up. He has lost the spark in his eyes that anyone would be in this situation.”
In its golden age of the NFL, Kiick, and the acceleration of Mercury Morris split playing time with the Dolphins during the 1972-73 season, which gave Shula a powerful one-two punch at halfback, but sometimes leads to second-guessing by fans.
“Kiick and Mercury Morris both contributed,” Shula said. “Every Monday, there is a controversy, but the bottom line is not bad.”
Csonka compounded the challenge for the opponents. He and Kiick has met an all-star game of the summer, they have joined the Dolphins, and the enforcement of constraints that they pieces together, partied together and briefly detained together in search of better contracts.
In 1975, Kiick, Csonka, and future Hall of Famer Paul Warfield left the Dolphins for the WFL. The package was a watershed, a value of nearly $4 million over three years for the three players, who have played for the Memphis Southmen.
But the WFL folded, and Kiick returned to the NFL for its past two seasons, playing for Denver and Washington.
James Forrest Kiick was born August. 9, 1946, in Lincoln Park, New Jersey. He led Wyoming in rushing three years in a row and was inducted into their athletics Hall of Fame in 1996.
Miami drafted Kiick in the fifth round in 1968. He became a starter as a rookie and led the AFL in rushing touchdowns, in 1969, with nine.
He had his best season statistically for Miami 1971 Super Bowl team, when he rushed for 738 yards and averaged 4.6 yards per carry, both career highs.
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Kiick was also a great blocker and a threat as a receiver. He had 233 career receptions for 2,302 metres.
After retirement, Kiick has worked as a private investigator for the Broward County public defender’s office.
“He is the best father I could have ever asked for, and will forever be a legend and my hero,” Allie Kiick wrote on Twitter after his death. She is a professional tennis player who has been ranked in the top 150 on the women’s tour.
Jim Kiick’s father, George, played back for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1940 and 1945.