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Garabed Sarkis "Garo" Yepremian (2 June 1944 – 15 May 2015) was a Cypriot-Armenian football placekicker who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 15 seasons, primarily with the Miami Dolphins. During his nine seasons in Miami, Yepremian was named to two Pro Bowls, twice received first-team All-Pro honors, and helped the Dolphins win two Super Bowl titles. Yepremian's first championship victory in Super Bowl VII occurred as a member of the 1972 Dolphins, the only team to complete a perfect season in NFL history. He also played for the Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before retiring in 1981.
|Born:||2 June 1944|
|Died:||15 May 2015 (aged 70)|
Media, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Height:||5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)|
|Weight:||175 lb (79 kg)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at NFL.com · PFR|
Early years Edit
Yepremian and his brother, Krikor, who attended Indiana University on a soccer scholarship, immigrated to the United States. Yepremian, who had earlier played in an organized soccer league in London, was not eligible to play NCAA football. Yepremian was offered to play with Arsenal, but Krikor wanted his brother to play football in the United States. With Krikor acting as his agent, he earned a contract with the Detroit Lions.
Professional career Edit
Yepremian signed with the Detroit Lions on 13 October 1966. In his rookie year, he broke an American football record by kicking six field goals in a single game against the Minnesota Vikings on 13 November. His talent aside, Yepremian was, nonetheless, at a loss regarding football vernacular and custom. In his first game his coach told him that their team had lost the coin toss, at which point Yepremian ran to midfield and dropped to his knees looking for the coin.
Yepremian was an immediate target to NFL players who considered American football the exclusive realm of Americans. Players were looking to take Yepremian's head off, and before his first kickoff his coach told him to run to the bench as soon as he kicked before his opponents could lay into him. Yepremian kicked off, then in a harried state ran to the wrong bench, finding himself sitting with the opposing team who while laughing then picked him up and threw him back onto the field. Yepremian had never worn a helmet and at first decided not to use one with a face mask, but that changed during Week 4 of the 1966 season, when he was knocked to the ground, roughed up and badly injured by Green Bay Packers linebacker Ray Nitschke. Afterwards, he started using a single-bar mask. He was the last player in the NFL to not wear a facemask on his helmet.
During one of his early games with the Lions, they were losing but scored a touchdown in the last 10 seconds of the game. Yepremian was sent in to kick the extra point, and he was so excited after converting the point that he went running off the field with his arms raised in celebration. Teammate Alex Karras asked Yepremian, "What the hell are you celebrating?" Yepremian replied with a phrase made famous on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: "I keek (kick) a touchdown".
After the 1967 season, Yepremian left football to enlist in the U.S. Army. When he returned to the Detroit area in 1968, however, the Lions chose not to re-sign him, so Yepremian signed a contract to be a kicker/punter for the Michigan Arrows of the Continental Football League. The Arrows, however, were a disaster on the field (1-11) and at the gate (drawing barely 4,000 fans a game in Detroit) and folded at season's end.
After sitting out the 1969 season, Yepremian earned a spot on the Dolphins roster in 1970. In his first season with Miami, he converted all 31 extra point attempts and 22 of 29 field goal attempts. He led the NFL with 117 points in 1971, and in Super Bowl VI, he scored the only three Dolphin points against the Dallas Cowboys. The next year, he was a key member of the 1972 Miami Dolphins "Perfect Season" team - he was the leading scorer and converted on many clutch field goals to help the Dolphins stay unbeaten. Yepremian appeared in three Super Bowls (VI, VII, and VIII).
Yepremian went to the New Orleans Saints for the 1979 season, signed after their 1979 first round draft choice, Russell Erxleben (who was handling all kicking chores), suffered a season-ending injury prior to the Saints' week two game with the Green Bay Packers. In 14 games, he made 12 of 16 attempts, with his longest being from 44 yards. He spent his final two years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He made 16 of 23 for 1980, his lowest field goal rate since making only 45% in 1977. For 1981, he went 2 for 4 to end his career as he was replaced by Bill Capece.
Over his career, Yepremian was successful on 210 of 313 field goals and 444 of 464 extra points for a total of 1,074 points. He led the league in field-goal accuracy three times, in 1970, 1975, and 1978. Garo and kick returner Rick Upchurch are the only first-team members of the 1970s NFL All-Decade team to not be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Yepremian is best known for two feats — one famous and one infamous. In a Divisional Round playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Christmas Day 1971, he kicked a 37-yard field goal 7 minutes and 40 seconds into double overtime, ending the longest game in NFL history and sending the Dolphins to the AFC Championship against the Baltimore Colts (which the Dolphins won to go on to Super Bowl VI).
Despite all of Yepremian's success, many people remember him for a play in Super Bowl VII in 1973. With his team leading the Washington Redskins 14–0, Yepremian was sent on to the field to kick a field goal with slightly more than two minutes left, which would have put the game out of reach. The field goal attempt was blocked by Bill Brundige, and Yepremian managed to get to the ball before any other player did. Because Garo feared injury from a pile on, instead of just falling on the ball to preserve the Dolphins' 14–0 lead, he picked it up and frantically attempted to throw a pass with Brundige bearing down on Garo and growling at him. As a result, the ball slipped from Garo’s hands and went straight up in the air. Yepremian then attempted to bat the ball out of bounds but instead batted it back up in the air, and it went right into the arms of his former Lions teammate, Redskins cornerback Mike Bass, who returned it for a touchdown. The Dolphins managed to hold on to win, 14–7, thus completing the Dolphins' undefeated 1972 season. Yepremian later joked to reporters after the game, "This is the first time the goat of the game is in the winners' locker room."
In the 1973 Pro Bowl, Yepremian kicked five field goals to lead the AFC to a win, and was voted Most Valuable Player in that game. He was elected to another Pro Bowl in 1978, and he kicked 20 consecutive field goals without a miss in 1979.
- Voted "Kicker of the Decade" (1970s) by the Pro Football Hall of Fame Committee
- Named to Sports Illustrated's “Dr. Z's All Decade 1970s Team"
- Two Pro Bowl appearances
- Two First-team All-Pro honors
- Led NFL in total scoring in the 1970s decade with 905 points
- Elected to the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 1982
- Nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame
- Leading scorer of the Miami Dolphins Undefeated 1972 17-0 Super Bowl VII team and 1973 Super Bowl VIII team
- Ended the longest game in pro football history- 1971 Miami Dolphins vs Kansas City Chiefs AFC Divisional Playoff Game
- Named one of the Miami Dolphins all-time 40 greatest players as part of the Dolphins' 40th Anniversary, 2005
- Longest NFL career (14 seasons) for any player who did not play football in college
- Inducted into the American Football Association's Semi Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988
- Named one of the Miami Dolphins all-time 50 greatest players as part of the Dolphins' 50th Anniversary, 2015
Personal life Edit
Yepremian was a motivational speaker and was the Founder/CEO of the Garo Yepremian Foundation for Brain Tumor Research.
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- Gonsalves, Rick (2013). Placekicking in the NFL: A History and Analysis. McFarland. pp. 157–160. ISBN 9781476600512.
- Stout, David (17 May 2015). "Garo Yepremian, Whose Kicks Outshined One Pass, Dies at 70". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- Swift, Doug (3 September 2020). "Remembering Garo". The Armenian Mirror-Spectator. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- Graham, Tim (11 August 2009). "Face of the NFL is gone: An ode to the single-bar". ESPN.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- Jackson, Barry (16 May 2015). "Miami Dolphins legendary kicker Garo Yepremian dies at 70 | Miami Herald Miami Herald". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015.
- "Garo Yepremian 1970 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "1971 NFL Leaders and Leaderboards". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "1971 NFL Scoring Summary". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "Super Bowl VI - Miami Dolphins vs. Dallas Cowboys - January 16th, 1972". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "1972 NFL Scoring Summary". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "Super Bowl VII - Washington Redskins vs. Miami Dolphins - January 14th, 1973". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "Super Bowl VIII - Minnesota Vikings vs. Miami Dolphins - January 13th, 1974". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "Garo Yepremian 1979 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "Garo Yepremian 1980 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "Garo Yepremian 1981 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "Veteran kicker Garo Yepremian, shy only seven points of..." UPI. 23 September 1981. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "Garo Yepremian Stats, Height, Weight, Position, Draft, College". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "1970 NFL Leaders and Leaderboards". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "1975 NFL Leaders and Leaderboards". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "1978 NFL Leaders and Leaderboards". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1970s - SPECIAL TEAMS/COACHES | Pro Football Hall of Fame Official Site".
- Wertheim, Jon (24 October 2022). "Life story of Garo Yepremian, kicker for undefeated '72 Dolphins". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "1973 Pro Bowl Gamebook" (PDF). NFL.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "The Kicker". garokicker.com. Archived from the original on 16 May 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
- "1972 Miami Dolphins Rosters, Stats, Schedule, Team Draftees". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "1973 Miami Dolphins Rosters, Stats, Schedule, Team Draftees". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "Miami Dolphins vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Christmas dinner delayed in 1971 for longest game | Miami Herald". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 22 December 2016.
- "Players" (PDF). americanfootballassn.com. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
- "Dolphins Add Five More Players To 50th Anniversary Team". CBS News. 3 November 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- Lefton, Terry (29 January 2008). "Fish Story: Reebok Prepping Ad Around '72 Dolphins". Sports Business Journal. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- Wertheim, Jon (24 October 2022). "Life story of Garo Yepremian, kicker for undefeated '72 Dolphins - Sports Illustrated". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "ESPN.com reviews history of football movies". ESPN.com. 29 September 2000. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- Wine, Steven (16 May 2015). "Garo Yepremian, NFL kicker with Dolphins and other teams, dies at 70". Washington Post. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- Leshinki, Ted (16 May 2015). "Dolphins Super Bowl kicker Garo Yepremian dies at 70". CBSSports.com. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
- "Yepremian, kicker for 17-0 Dolphins, dies at 70". ESPN.com. Associated Press. 16 May 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
Other sources Edit
- Career statistics and player information from Pro Football Reference