2-time Miami Dolphins champion Mike Kolen dies at 76

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Dick Raphael-USA TODAY Sports

Former Miami Dolphins linebacker and two-time Super Bowl champion Mike Kolen passed away on Wednesday at the age of 76.

A 12th-round pick by the Dolphins in the 1970 NFL Draft, Kolen played for the Dolphins from the 1970 season through the 1977 season, appearing in 84 games and making 78 starts. The Auburn University product was a great part of Miami’s Super Bowl runs in the 1970s.

Nicknamed “Captain Crunch,” Kolen appeared in 11 playoff games for Miami (10 starts), and he recorded two interceptions in those games.

At Auburn, Kolen was a legend on the football field and off of it. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1985, and he led Auburn in tackles in 16 of the 25 games he started from the 1967 season through the 1969 season.

While at Auburn, he became the first recipient of the National Christian Athlete of the year Award in 1969.

For decades, Kolen returned to Auburn each spring to present the Mike Kolen Award to Auburn’s leading tackler from the previous season.

“Mike Kolen is one of the finest men I’ve ever known,” former Auburn athletics director and sports information director David Housel said. “Being a football player was secondary to Mike Kolen. He’s one of the greatest football players Auburn ever had, but he was much more. A rock, a beacon.

“When I think of Mike Kolen, I think of toughness, competitiveness, and a quality of goodness. He was a great football player but he was a better man.”

After his football career, Kolen worked in real estate, fitness center ownership and financial services. He also wrote a book in 2016 titled The Greatest Team: A Playbook for Champions, an ode to the 1972 Dolphins, who are the only undefeated Super Bowl champion in league history.

Kolen shared the importance of the acronym “T.E.A.M.” that helped drive the Dolphins’ success in a 2016 interview with AuburnTigers.com, explaining that the letters stood for trust, enthusiasm, attitude and motivation.

Shortly after the publishing of his book, Kolen revealed to the Miami Herald in 2017 that he was dealing with the initial stages of Alzheimer’s.

An impactful player and champion on the field, Kolen was also a terrific human outside of the game of football. According to AuburnTigers.com’s Jeff Shearer, funeral arrangements for the Dolphins legend are still pending.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.