Shula And Griese: A Perfect Combination
In 1970 the Dolphins joined the National Football League (NFL) and hired future hall-of-famer Don Shula to coach the team. Shula used his first year to rebuild the team and teach his offensive system that focused on consistent, short-yardage gains. During the 1970 season Griese had an impressive completion rate of fifty-eight percent, but his twelve touchdown passes stood against seventeen interceptions. By 1971 Griese and the Dolphins had hit their stride, making it all the way to Super Bowl VI, before being defeated by the Dallas Cowboys, 24-3. For his performance on the field Griese was named as an All-Pro Player and The Sporting News American Football Conference (AFC) Player of the Year. He made his second trip to the Pro Bowl.
Although he was hampered by injury during the 1972 season, sitting out all but six regular season games, the Dolphins rolled on undefeated. Griese returned for the playoffs, taking his team to Super Bowl VII, where they triumphed over the Washington Redskins. The 1972 Dolphins became the only NFL team to post a 17-game win streak in a single season. During the 1973 season Griese threw for seventeen touchdowns and only eight interceptions, and the Dolphins won once again won the Super Bowl, beating the Minnesota Vikings, 24-7.
In 1976 problems with double vision and dizziness caused by 20-200 vision in his right eye forced Griese to wear glasses, which did little to slow the quarterback down. In fact he was awarded the Maxwell Club's Bert Bell Memorial Trophy as NFL Player of the Year in 1977, a season he threw a career-high twenty-two touchdown passes. Following the 1980 season Griese, suffering from a painful and nagging shoulder injury, announced his retirement. During his fourteen years as a Miami Dolphin, he completed 1,926 of 3,429 passes for 25,092 yards. To his 192 passing touchdowns, he added seven more rushing touchdowns.
Griese was a perfect match for Shula's ball control offense, in which grinding away yards on the ground emphasized over a flashy passing game. Because Griese bought into his coach's system, he was just as happy to hand the ball off to his running backs as he was to throw it. It was a match made in heaven. A match made in heaven for the fans of the Miami Dolphins, as well.
Following his retirement, Griese worked as a sports analyst for NBC's coverage of the NFL from 1982 to 1986. In 1986 ABC invited Griese to join sportscaster Keith Jackson to cover college football. Since then Griese has developed a reputation as a skilled, thoughtful commentator. He has covered more than twenty seasons of college football and numerous college bowl and NFL games.
Griese's wife died in 1988 from breast cancer, leaving Griese at home with his youngest son, Brian, then 13-years-old. The two developed a special bond, and when Brian became a quarterback at the University of Michigan, Griese covered several of his son's games. Brian has since followed his father into professional football as the quarterback of the Denver Broncos. Griese remarried in 1994 to Shay Whitney; they reside in Jupiter, Florida.