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Lawrence Richard Csonka, born December 25, 1946 in Stow, Ohio was a punishing American football player in the late 1960's and 1970's.
Larry Csonka (pronounced "ZON-ka") emerged to prominence after being an All-American at Syracuse University, where the bruising fullback broke many of the school's rushing records, a number of which where held by the great Jim Brown. In 1968, he was a #1 draft pick by the American Football League's Miami Dolphins, and by the 1970's he became one of the most feared runners in professional football. Standing 6'3" and 235 lbs., he was one of the biggest runners of his day and pounded through the middle of field with relative ease. He was also incredibly sure-handed, rarely fumbling the ball or dropping a pass.
Larry formed a great relationship with running back Jim Kiick and the two were referred to as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Together with Eugene "Mercury" Morris, the Dolphins had one of football's best rushing attacks. It led the Dolphins to 3 consecutive Super Bowls in the early 70's, with Miami winning 2 of them. Csonka rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of those years. During the 1972 season, the Dolphins became the only team since the AFL/NFL merger to go undefeated, and Csonka was an instrumental part of the success, rushing for a career best 1,117 yards. The following season, the Dolphins won a second straight title and "Zonk", as he was known, was the Super Bowl MVP.
After 1974, he had a contract dispute with the Dolphins and became one of three Dolphins, along with Kiick and Paul Warfield, to jump to the fledgling World Football League. The three played for Memphis, but Csonka and the others had minimal success. Csonka left after one season and joined the New York Giants in 1976, where he played for 3 seasons. They were not hugely successful and he returned to Miami in 1979. He ran for over 800 yards (his best since their Super Bowl days) and scored 13 touchdowns that season. He chose to retire from football on that high note after the year was over.
Csonka was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987 and his #39 was retired by the Miami Dolphins in 2002. Since his retirement, he has become a public speaker and has hosted several outdoor adventure shows on TV. He was also an analyst on the popular syndicated show American Gladiators from 1990-1993.