Garo Yepremian, the Miami Dolphins’ kicker during their glory years in the 1970s, died Friday at age 70 after a year-long battle with cancer, his wife Maritza confirmed to the Associated Press on Friday night.
Garo Yepremian came to the United States from Cyprus when he was 22, joining the Detroit Lions. After two years with Detroit, he joined the Dolphins, where he spent nine years (1970 to 1978), winning two Super Bowls with the team. He finished his career with a one-season stint with the New Orleans Saints and two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Garo Yepremian is best remembered for his ill-fated attempt to throw a pass during Super Bowl VII. Late in the game, Yepremian lined up for a 41-yard field goal attempt in a 14-0 game. A converted kick would give Miami a 17-0 lead in the championship game capping a 17-0 perfect season. The kick, however, was blocked, bouncing up in the air. Yepremian then caught the bouncing ball and attempted to throw a pass, but the ball fell out of his hand, hit him in the helmet, then he batted the ball into the air. Washington Redskins cornerback Mike Bass caught the ball and returned the interception 49 yards for a touchdown.
Years later, “Garo’s Gaffe” is still shown as one of the top blunders in Super Bowl history. Yepremian, luckily, maintained his sense of humor, and was always a happy-go-lucky person.
Dolphins Senior Vice President, and Yepremian’s former teammate with Miami, Nat Moore released a statement on behalf of the organization on Yepremian’s passing:
Garo Yepremian was one of the most popular and productive players in Miami Dolphins history, and we were sorry to learn of his passing. His effusive personality supplemented his strong competitive nature, and no one made more pressure kicks than Garo. His most important one, of course, came when he kicked a 37-yard field goal in double overtime on Christmas Day in a 1971 playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs to give the Dolphins a hard-fought victory in the longest game in NFL history.
While Garo is also remembered for his ill-fated pass attempt following a blocked kick in Super Bowl VII, even that miscue demonstrated his competitiveness — he was just trying to do whatever it took to make a play. And that was a singular exception in Garo’s outstanding career in Miami that led him to become the only kicker in Dolphin history to make multiple Pro Bowls, and he remains the second leading scorer in Dolphins history.