Friday, August 7, 2009

Ghosts of the Orange Bowl: Jake Scott

There have been 40 MVPs in the history of the Super Bowl. But Jake Scott is the only one to win the award to complete an undefeated season. He may be the most underappreciated Miami Dolphin player of all time. Long before Dan Marino wore the #13 jersey, that number belonged to Scott. But that's where the similarties to Marino end. You won't find him in the hall of fame. You don't see his name in the team's Ring of Honor. But that's the way Jake Scott would prefer it-- a true anti football superstar who rarely did interviews and shunned the spotlight. He could care less what anybody thinks of him and he's at peace with it. What can't be ignored are his accomplishments and they are impressive.

From 1970 through 1975, Jake Scott played strong safety for the Dolphins and was one of the most feared, talented and mysterious players to wear the aqua and orange. He was a master thief in the Dolphins secondary, intercepting 35 passes in just 6 seasons. His interception totals are still a Miami Dolphins team record. Scott along with Dick Anderson were considered the NFL's best pair of safeties in the early 1970s. Quarterbacks knew completing a pass against the Dolphins was a tough task and Scott had the ultimate respect from his peers. He was selected to the Pro Bowl 5 times and was twice named first team All Pro. But his most memorable moment was intercepting two passes against the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII, earning MVP honors.

Individual statistics only tell part of Jake Scott's story with the Dolphins. During the Scott years, the Dolphins were the winningest franchise in profesional sports. Miami won 3 consecutive AFC championships in 1971, 72 and 73 and back-to-back Super Bowl titles in '72 and 73. From 1971 through 1974, the Dolphins were unbeatable at the Orange Bowl, winning an NFL record 31 consecutive home games.

But Scott's body paid a heavy price. He had five stainless-steel screws holding together the bones on his right hand and least one other metal screw in an elbow. He entered Super Bowl VII nursing a separated shoulder. He once played in a Pro Bowl with two broken hands in casts. He refused to take painkillers which later led to a fallout with head coach Don Shula.

Following the 1975 season, Scott refused to attend a mandatory Dolphins award banquet. He was later traded to the Washington Redskins, where he finished the final three seasons of his career. Scott was extremely upset and never forgave Shula for the trade. To this day, he has not spoken to his former head coach and has no regrets.

During his years in Miami, Scott developed a legendary reputation with his teammates as a tough guy and a party animal who loved to raise hell. He once consumed 43 beers in one sitting. He was said to be a bigger womanizer than Joe Namath. And if there was ever a bar fight, you wanted Jake Scott on your side. He intimidated his own teammates. During his first season with Dolphins in 1970, rookie players were required to sing their college fight song as a hazing ritual. Scott was the only rookie who refused to participate. Nobody wanted to mess with him.

When his career ended, he withdrew completely from the football world. For many years only a few close friends knew his whereabouts. Even family members couldn't find him. In 2006 Sun Sentinel sportswriter Dave Hyde finally tracked Scott down and found him living in a remote region in Hawaii. Scott claims he makes his living as an "investor" while living the good life in his little corner of the world. He doesn't follow football and it's a part of his life he has put behind him.

Three years ago during Super Bowll XL, the NFL honored all the of the previous Super Bowl MVP's in a pregame ceremony. Scott was the only one who didn't attend. Last year, the Miami Dolphins honored Dick Anderson and former offensive lineman Richmond Webb for induction into the team's Ring of Honor. With all due respect to Richmond Webb, it's hard to comprehend Anderson not being inducted with his former partner in crime Jake Scott. But the truth is the Dolphin organization knew Scott would not show up. The 1972 Dolphins reunite every year when the last undefeated team loses. But one player you'll never find at those parties is Jake Scott. Chances are you'll find him relaxing at his familiar bar stool sipping a beer in Hawaii.

1 comment:

Deb said...

I dated Jake for 8 years. You will never find a more honest and humble individual. Jake allows no BS or illusions with himself or those around him. He is too intelligent - he's got a genius-plus IQ which he tries to ignore. He is one of a kind. I love him dearly and always will. Always. Deb Cat