Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Langer, who played every offensive snap at center for the unbeaten 1972 Miami Dolphins, died Thursday, the team announced Friday. He was 71.
Langer spent 10 years with the Dolphins, from 1970 to 1979, earning first-team All-Pro honors four times and six selections to the Pro Bowl. He finished his career with two seasons with his home-state Minnesota Vikings.
Considered one of the greatest centers of all-time, Langer was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987, becoming the fourth Dolphins player to make it in his first season of eligibility. The others are quarterback Dan Marino, receiver Paul Warfield and defensive end Jason Taylor.
Langer was a middle linebacker at South Dakota State and went undrafted in 1970, signing with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent before being cut during training camp. The Dolphins picked him up and he played in the final five games of the 1970 season, mostly on special teams.
“I never thought I’d make it,” he told The Athletic last week. “All you do is put one foot in front of the other and fight like hell. You gotta learn to do whatever it takes to get the job done, no matter who is looking, no matter who is there, no matter what.”
After serving as the backup center in Miami in 1971, he become a first-teamer in 1972 and started 109 consecutive games until he was sidelined by a knee injury in 1979.
“I would not do anything differently. No question. You can step off the curb and get hit by a drunk driver,” he said in a 2017 interview with the Miami Herald.
“Hurt or not, we wanted to be on the field. That’s the way we played. I’m going up against Dick Butkus, Alan Page, Joe Greene. That’s a battle that appealed to me. There was nothing that could compare to that competition after I retired from football.”