Obama praised their post football careers, noting that members of the team included a minister, a mayor, a doctor, a state senator, a high school counselor and a number of successful businessmen. He singled out Buoniconti for helping found a leading spinal cord research center, the result of an injury sustained by his son on the football field.
Shula and the players gave Obama a Dolphins’ jersey with No. 72 on it. It didn’t bear his name; instead it simply said “Undefeated.”
At least three players, including Hall of Fame center Jim Langer, did not make the trip to the White House, citing political differences with Obama.
Little and Griese, speaking to reporters afterward, said they regretted that those former teammates missed the ceremony.
“I don’t have any thoughts about those guys. I’m just sorry that they weren’t here,” Griese said. “We had a great day. The White House treated us greatly. Everybody who was here was happy they were here.”
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross — a Republican — paid the players’ expenses.
Little said the visit felt like a career capstone.
“I can go no higher. This is it,” he said. “Hall of Fame, 17 and 0, 32 and 2 over two years, and now being on the White House grounds. Can’t beat it.”