Hobart's Bob Kuechenberg a part of five Super Bowl rings with Miami (copy)

Bob Kuechenberg (67), a Hobart native, was a part of five Super Bowl teams with Miami. He is most remembered for being a part of the undefeated 1972 team that won Super Bowl VII.

Lynne Sladky, file, Associated Press

It's great to have friends at the top.

Trouble is, those media old-timers who pushed for Bob Kuechenberg's selection to the pro football Hall of Fame each year — guys like Sports Illustrated's "Dr. Z" and Miami Herald sports columnist Edwin Pope — are now deceased.

The young NFL media has a limited sense of history.

"It's been that way a long time," Kuechenberg said. "They have no idea."

Though difficult at first, the 1965 Hobart grad and former Dolphins guard has learned not to care about being immortalized in Canton, Ohio, one day.

Disappointment is not a cloak he chooses to wear.

"If I let that affect my attention, it would drive me batty," said Kuechenberg, who played 14 seasons with Miami, won two Super Bowls (VII, VIII) and was in the Hall of Fame conversation from 2002-09.

"Kooch" was a mainstay on a Dolphins' O-line that featured Hall of Famers Jim Langer, Larry Little and Dwight Stephenson. It seemed a given that he'd eventually follow.

He played in six Pro Bowls in the late 1970s and early '80s, was a top 15 finalist for the Hall of Fame from 2002–06, and a top 17 finalist from from 2007–09 — but missed the cut every year.

Oh, did we mention durable?

Kuechenberg started 176 of 196 career games, many times with assorted breaks and fractures. If the bone didn't pierce the flesh, he was on the field.

There may be reason, however slight, for hope.

Jerry Kramer, a guard for the Packers, was finally chosen Saturday by the Hall of Fame senior committee after 10 consecutive misses.

Kramer is 82.

"Jerry was deeper in the old-timers swamp than me," Kuechenberg chuckled. "I'm only 70. He was before me, so God bless him."

For years, the former Notre Dame All-American has run a construction supply business in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, while brother Rudy, a 1971 Hobart grad who played for the Bears, lives in Cape Corral.

"Life is very good," said Bob Kuechenberg, enjoying the sun and surf. "I suspect it may be much better than in Hammond or Lake County."

Despite a Hall of Fame snub and the NFL hypocrisy he finds disturbing, 'Kooch' has had the last laugh.

"Every year, someone wins the Super Bowl. Every year, someone loses the Super Bowl," he said. "Every year, someone is voted into the Hall of Fame.

"But remember what happened in 1972?"

Kuechenberg's Dolphins finished 17-0.

"No one else has ever done that," he said. "It made us immortal — and you can't take that away."

For now, that'll have to do.

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This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

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