Stow native and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Larry Csonka says the 1972 Miami Dolphins’ trip to the White House will be worth the wait, and he’s making the trip from Alaska.
For more than 20 years, the Pro Football Hall of Fame fullback has spent summers in Alaska, where he hosts an outdoor show for NBC. He’ll leave Sunday night to get to Washington for a ceremony with his former teammates Tuesday, when President Obama honors the only NFL team to achieve a perfect season.
“It means more now after 40 years than it would have at the time it happened,” Csonka said by phone from somewhere north of Wasilla. “We realize a lot more today than we did at the time what a unique achievement it was, and it will be fun to celebrate it with the unique president we have now.”
The 66-year-old Csonka plans to fly from Anchorage to Minneapolis to Atlanta to Washington and figures the trip will take 12 to 15 hours. He said the decision to go was easier because current Dolphins owner Stephen Ross — a Republican — is paying expenses for all of the players.
“The fact he was behind it and offered to pay for it — how do you turn down something like that?” Csonka said. “That’s a very kind offer. That shows you this is not a political issue.”
The 1972 Dolphins, who went 17-0, didn’t make it to the White House in the months after their Super Bowl victory. President Nixon was immersed in the Watergate scandal at the time, and White House visits by sports teams were less common than today.
Most of the ’72ers still living are expected to attend, along with hall of fame coach Don Shula. The team has frequent reunions, and Csonka said he always enjoys them, including a recent one at a Monday night game.
“It was funny,” Csonka said. “We got on the bus to go to the game, and the lights went out and it was dark, and guys were joking and talking about the same things as 40 years ago, and their voices hadn’t changed. It was like stepping back in time. Then we got to the game and the lights went on, and we were back to being old men.”
Saints’ Vilma has surgery
New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton says veteran linebacker Jonathan Vilma traveled to Philadelphia to have arthroscopic knee surgery.
Payton is not offering any timeline for Vilma’s return, saying only that the linebacker is expected back and that the Saints would “kind of go from there.”
Dolphins sign Applewhite
Defensive end Antwan Applewhite signed with the Miami Dolphins after he endured an injury-plagued 2012 season with the Carolina Panthers. Applewhite has appeared in 48 NFL games with the San Diego Chargers (2007-10) and Panthers (2011-12), starting 17. He was slowed by knee and hamstring injuries last year and played in only five games.
Applewhite has also played linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He has 6½ career sacks since signing as an undrafted free agent with the Chargers.
He joined the Dolphins for Thursday’s practice, their last of training camp.
Cowboys hurting at guard
The Dallas Cowboys are dealing with yet another setback at guard after Ron Leary was sent home for more examinations on a right knee that probably needs surgery. Coach Jason Garrett said Thursday the team didn’t consider the injury serious and hoped to have Leary back at practice in “a couple of weeks.”
Leary got a late start at training camp because of a back injury but was working with the first team soon after he started practicing. The second-year player has a degenerative condition in his left knee.
Both of last year’s starting guards, Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings, have missed time at camp. Livings is still sidelined after knee surgery two weeks ago. Several backup guards have been hurt as well.
Patriots release Jenkins
The New England Patriots cut veteran wide receiver Michael Jenkins. They’ve also released offensive lineman Kevin Haslam and placed offensive lineman Tyronne Green on injured reserve. The Patriots signed Jenkins on March 28 as a free agent from the Minnesota Vikings where he spent the past two seasons.
Sanchez to start for Jets
Mark Sanchez is getting another chance to start for the New York Jets. The Jets announced that Sanchez will start over rookie Geno Smith for the preseason home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday night.