GLENDALE, Ariz. - New York Giants guard Chris Snee had a message for the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who remain the NFL's only undefeated team after the Giants shocked New England 17-14 in the Super Bowl last night.
"Thanks for supporting us," Snee said. "Your record stands for another year, I guess."
By tradition, members of the '72 Dolphins uncork champagne bottles every autumn when the NFL's last remaining unbeaten goes down. This time, the party didn't happen until last night, when the Giants handed the New England Patriots their first loss - in their 19th game.
"Obviously, we're proud to still be the only undefeated team in the history of the National Football League," former Dolphins running back Jim Kiick said in a statement. "We're proud of it. Why shouldn't we be?"
The '72 Dolphins cast a long shadow over this Super Bowl. Kiick, Garo Yepremian, Larry Little and Mercury Morris gathered Friday for a media briefing. And in many local bars it was easy to find an argument over who would go down as the greater team - the Dolphins or this year's Patriots.
That debate is moot now. The Patriots' inexorable march on the Dolphins died in the desert.
"We never were against the New England Patriots," Kiick said. "We have our accomplishments.
"We're not comparing ourselves to anyone else from other generations. We're happy with our own accomplishments. The Patriots are a great football team. Unfortunately, they didn't win this Super Bowl."
The Dolphins remained in the spotlight after the game, sharing the attention with the victorious Giants, their new favorite team.
"They played a fabulous game and I really thought they deserved to win," former Miami tight end Jim Mandich said. "I really feel the better team won.
"As for the 1972 Miami Dolphins, I don't take joy in the fact the Patriots lost - period. But I do relish and savor the fact that there has only been one unbeaten team in the history of the NFL, and it is the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Of that, I am extremely proud."
Former Dolphins coach Don Shula watched from a suite, an unfamiliar vantage point for the Hall of Famer.
"What I learned today is how tough it is to go undefeated," Shula said. "That's why I'm even more proud of our '72 team than I've ever been. It shows it's a tremendous accomplishment. It hadn't been done before we went undefeated and it hasn't been done since."
In November, Shula said the Patriots' success was diminished by the spying scandal. In January, he acknowledged that because the Patriots threaten to match his team's perfect-season achievement, his comments could be interpreted as sour grapes.
Shula had kinder words for the vanquished Patriots last night.
"I'm sure they are going to use it as motivation because that's a proud group," Shula said. "Their football team is a team that really knows how to win. So I'm sure they are going to realize what they accomplished this year, and then what they failed to accomplish at the end of the year."
The Giants weren't thinking about the Dolphins as they mobbed each other after the game. But several players chuckled at the thought that their improbable victory had started a champagne celebration among the Dolphins.
"We're about to start popping our own bottles and join them," linebacker Kawika Mitchell said.33.53858 -112.1863