AL HAMNIK: NFL great Bob Kuechenberg makes his point with White House snub

2013-08-20T18:30:00Z 2013-08-21T01:02:05Z AL HAMNIK: NFL great Bob Kuechenberg makes his point with White House snubAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
August 20, 2013 6:30 pm  • 

Bob Kuechenberg has always spoken his mind.

Don't like it? Leave the room.

Some say the former NFL standout and member of the Miami Dolphins undefeated 1972 team is just a grumpy guy who complains about everything. Ex-Dolphin Jason Taylor once quipped, "Bob needs a hug and a hobby."

This much can't be denied: Kuechenberg is one of pro football's greatest players ever at the guard position, starting 176 of 196 career games and winning two Super Bowl championships (VII, VIII). His name was consistently in the Hall of Fame conversation from 2002-09.

On Tuesday, the 1965 Hobart grad and former Notre Dame all-American again made news by avoiding the TV cameras and national spotlight.

President Barack Obama honored nearly three dozen members of the '72 Dolphins – the lone unbeaten team in NFL history – during a ceremony at the White House.

Kuechenberg, Hall of Fame center Jim Langer and defensive tackle Manny Fernandez did not attend the event because of their political differences with Obama.

"I don't have any thoughts about those guys. I'm just sorry that they weren't here," quarterback Bob Griese told the Associated Press. "We had a great day. The White House treated us greatly. Everybody who was here was happy they were here."

Kuechenberg could not be reached for comment even when I asked his brother Rudy to intervene.

I've known both for years. Bob runs a very successful construction supply business in Fort Lauderdale while Rudy, a 1961 Hobart grad, lives in Cape Corral, Fla. and is an avid outdoorsman.

"We're pretty tight," Rudy said. "I was happy when I heard (the Dolphins) were going to go. But Bob said it was crazy at work, that he had meetings all day."

Langer was more direct in a Yahoo interview. "We've got some real moral compass issues in Washington. I don't want to be in a room with those people and pretend I'm having a good time. I can't do that," he said.

"If that (angers) people, so be it."

The '72 Dolphins did not visit the White House after their historic season because Washington was going through one of its darkest periods as President Nixon was embroiled in the Watergate scandal.

"I know some people may be asking why are we doing this after all these years," Obama said. "My answer is simple: I wanted to be the young guy up here for once."

Everyone in the East Room laughed, including Hall of Famers Larry Csonka, Larry Little, Nick Buoniconti and then-coach Don Shula, seated in a wheelchair.

Their Dolphins finished 17-0 and were 32-2 over two years with Kuechenberg and Company.

Yet, he continues to be passed over in Canton.

"He hasn't made the Hall of Fame and he deserves to," Rudy said. "My brother was a great technician. He studied the players he went up against and knew everything about them. Everything.

"And he's dedicated like all the other Koochies — if we can't do it, we'll die trying."

Bob Kuechenberg's White House snub won't win over his critics and he doesn't care. The message he sent was as clear as a mountain stream.

Sometimes, the most powerful word is that which goes unspoken.

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

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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