Miami, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Former NFL quarterback Earl Morrall passed away Friday morning. He was 79.
Morrall started the final nine games of the regular season during the Miami Dolphins' perfect season in 1972. He came off the bench to replace an injured Bob Griese, who returned in the AFC title game and led the Dolphins to a Super Bowl victory.
Morrall finished the 1972 season with 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions, winning the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award. He remained with the Dolphins the next four seasons before announcing his retirement on May 2, 1977.
The Dolphins confirmed Morrall's death Friday.
"The Miami Dolphins' family is deeply saddened by the passing of Earl Morrall today," said Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. "Earl not only left an indelible mark in Dolphins history with his play on the field during the Perfect Season Super Bowl VII Championship team, but was extremely active in the community as a player and Dolphins alumni. He will be greatly missed. Our prayers and thoughts are with his wife Jane, family and friends during this time."
Morrall also played for the 49ers, Steelers, Lions, Giants and Colts during a 21-year NFL career that began in 1956 as a first-round selection of the 49ers. He won three Super Bowl rings, including Super Bowl V, where he subbed for an injured Johnny Unitas. Two years earlier, Morrall led Baltimore to a 13-1 record and NFL title, but wound up on the losing end of Super Bowl III against the New York Jets.
"I was very saddened to learn about Earl's passing," said former Dolphins coach Don Shula. "He was someone who was as good a person as he was a player. When I think about Earl, what stands out the most is what a competitor he was on the field and how special he was off it."
Morrall played 255 NFL games, completing 1,379 passes for 20,809 yards and 161 touchdowns with 148 interceptions.