Saturday, July 20, 2024

Mike Kolen, nicknamed ‘Captain Crunch’ and member of undefeated Dolphins, dies at 76


Mike Kolen, a key member of the Miami Dolphins‘ championship teams in the early 1970s, died on Wednesday, according to his alma mater, Auburn. He was 76. 

Nicknamed “Captain Crunch” for his fierce tackling, Kolen went from a 12th-round pick to a starting member on one of the greatest defenses in NFL history. An immediate starter (he arrived in Miami the same year as Hall of Fame coach Don Shula), Kolen started at linebacker in each of Miami’s three consecutive Super Bowl trips from 1971-73. He had 11 tackles and an interception during the Dolphins’ 1971 playoff run. 

Kolen had another pick during the 1972 playoffs while helping the Dolphins cap off a perfect season. He set a career high in interceptions the following season as Miami successfully defended its title. Kolen stepped away from football following the 1977 season after spending his entire pro career in Miami. 

Prior to his time in Miami, Kolen enjoyed a highly successful college career at Auburn. A 1985 Alabama Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Auburn created an award in his honor that is given annually to the Tigers player who leads the team in tackles that season. Kolen routinely returned to campus to personally present the award to that year’s recipient. 

“It’s been a real thrill for me,” Kolen said in 2016. “You’re congratulating a player from the previous year who had a great impact on Auburn’s defensive side of the ball, being the leading tackler. Being there at Auburn, being out on the field, kind of reminds you of some old memories. It’s just a really next experience, and something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed over the years.”

Kolen, who published a book about the ’72 Dolphins, told the Miami Herald in 2017 that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, which he believed was the byproduct of playing football.

“I don’t blame football,” Kolen said, via the Palm Beach Post. “Football’s a great sport. It’s taught me so many values in life. … I consider it a privilege to play football, especially for Auburn and the Miami Dolphins. I wouldn’t give anything for that. It was such a terrific opportunity. I have no regrets whatsoever.”

Related articles

Share article

Latest articles


Subscribe to stay updated.