HOF center, Dolphins great Jim Langer dies at 71

A member of the famed undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins and a Pro Football Hall of Fame center regarded as one of the best to have ever played the position, Jim Langer passed away on Thursday at the age of 71, the Dolphins announced.

Langer was a six-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro on his way to first-ballot Hall of Fame status in 1987.

"The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame mourns the passing of Jim Langer," Pro Football Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker said in a statement. "He lived an incredible life. From a free agent to a Bronzed Bust, Jim's selfless sacrifice, perseverance and never giving up on his goal are important life lessons that can inspire us all. He was the ultimate teammate. His contributions to this game, especially how integral he was to the Miami Dolphins' sustained success throughout the 1970s, will live forever in Canton, Ohio where the Hall of Fame flag now flies at half-staff in his memory."

A two-time Super Bowl winner with Miami, Langer played 10 seasons with the Dolphins and his final two with the Vikings to conclude a decorated dozen-year career in the NFL that began in 1970 after playing his college ball at South Dakota State. The Jim Langer Award is now bestowed upon the best NCAA Division II lineman every year.

Undrafted out of college, Langer was originally signed by the Browns but was cut, an unceremonious beginning to a spectacular career that resulted in him becoming one of 17 undrafted free agents to be enshrined in Canton. At one point in his career he made 109 straight starts and played in 128 consecutive games. Langer amazingly also played every offensive down in the Dolphins' legendary 1972 campaign of perfection.

Following the win in Super Bowl VII, Langer helped the Dolphins win Super Bowl VIII, as well.

The centerpiece of a legendary Dolphins team that thrived throughout the 1970s, Langer earned a spot on the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team. He snapped to HOF quarterback Bob Griese and paved the way for bruising HOF fullback Larry Csonka along with other notable Fins rushers Mercury Morris and Jim Kiick. He was also a teammate of Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti, who recently passed away on July 30.

Not surprisingly, Langer was enshrined in the Dolphins Honor Roll and was a charter inductee in the Dolphins Walk of Fame, according to to the team website. Among Langer's many accolades, perhaps the most impressive was that in 1975, Langer -- an offensive lineman -- was his team's most valuable player.

Langer, who lived in Ramsey, Minnesota, is survived by his wife, Linda, and four children.

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