Miami Dolphins History

Miami Dolphins   The first professional football team in Miami, and in the state of Florida, were the Miami Seahawks, who played in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) during its inaugural 1946 season. They were the first major league-level sports franchise ever to be based in Miami. The Seahawks played only one season afflicted by a difficult schedule and poor ticket sales, and by the end of the season had accumulated so much debt that the league confiscated the franchise. Florida would not have another professional football team for nearly 20 years. Then in 1965, a group in Atlanta applied for franchises in both the American Football League and the NFL, acting entirely on its own with no guarantee of stadium rights. Another group reported it had deposited earnest money for a team in the AFL. Local businessmen worked out a deal and were awarded an AFL franchise on June 7, 1965, contingent upon acquiring exclusive stadium rights from city officials. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, who had been moving slowly in Atlanta matters, was spurred by the AFL interest and headed on the next plane down to Atlanta to block the rival league's claim on the city of Atlanta. He forced the city to make a choice between the two leagues. By June 30, the city picked Rankin Smith and the NFL.

When Atlanta reneged, the American Football League awarded an expansion team franchise to lawyer Joseph Robbie and actor Danny Thomas for $7.5 million. Robbie had originally wanted to establish the franchise in Philadelphia, but AFL commissioner Joe Foss suggested courting Miami due to its warm climate, growing population, and lack of a football team. Thomas would eventually sell his stake in the team to Robbie. A contest was held in 1965 to choose the name of the new Miami AFL franchise. A total of 19,843 entries were submitted with over a thousand different names. A dozen finalists were screened by a seven-member committee made up of the local media. Names considered included the Mariners, Marauders, Mustangs, Missiles, Moons, Sharks, and Suns. The winning name, "Dolphins," was submitted by 622 entrants. Mrs. Robert Swanson of West Miami won lifetime passes to Dolphin games when her nickname entry successfully predicted the winner and score of the 1965 football game between Notre Dame and the University of Miami, a scoreless tie. Ironicallly, the Dolphins became a Professional Football powerhouse, winning two Super Bowl Championships, including the perfect season of 1972, while the NFL's Atlanta team has been a perennial also-ran. Go Dolphins...

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