Earl Morrall, the quarterback who helped the Dolphins to a perfect season in 1972, dies at 79

The Associated Press

FILE - This is a 1972 file photo showing Miami Dolphins quarterback Earl Morrall. Morrall, an NFL quarterback for 21 years who started nine games during the Miami Dolphins' perfect season in 1972, has died at age 79. The Dolphins confirmed Morrall's death Friday, April 25, 2014. (AP Photo/File)

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Morrall was a Michigan native who played at Michigan State. He led the Spartans to two Rose Bowl victories, and was an infielder in the 1954 College World Series.

"He was a great Spartan," current Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio said.

Morrall was the second overall pick in the 1956 draft. He was never able to hold a No. 1 job for long but developed a reputation as a super sub and was once traded for Bobby Layne, one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

In retirement Morrall lived in Naples, Fla., where former teammate Charlie Babb also lives.

"I was the youngest guy on the '72 team," said Babb, a defensive back. "Earl was 37 when I'm a 22-year-old rookie. He was kind of like Pops, and he was the king of the flattop. He was kind of a father figure to us young guys, until it was time to hit him. Then we didn't mind hitting him.

"Earl was a gentleman and a great representative of the NFL. He'll be missed."

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