Garo Yepremian played in the first NFL game he ever saw, as a placekicker for the Detroit Lions, against the Baltimore Colts in 1966. At 5’7″ tall, Garo was an immigrant from Cyprus who only knew a few words of English, and as one of the first soccer-style placekickers in the league, Garo faced many skeptics. Players were resentful of this “specialist” whose only purpose was to kick the football. Ray Nitschke and other opposing players took illegal cheap shots at Garo on the field, and he was even taunted and bullied by his own Lion teammates both on the practice field and off.
Despite these and many other obstacles, Garo was on his way to a stellar career, and went on to become the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s choice as “Kicker of the Decade” (1970-1980).
Garo’s NFL career spanned fifteen years, as he played for the Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. From 1966 through 1981 he missed one season (1969) when he proudly volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army.
- Voted “Kicker of the Decade” (1970s) by The Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee
- Named to Sports Illustrated “Dr. Z’s All Decade Team” (1970s)
- Named one of the top 40 Greatest Players in Miami Dolphin History, 2005
- Named one of the top 50 Greatest Players in Miami Dolphin History, 2015
- Converted a record six field goals in one game as a member of the Detroit Lions (vs. Minnesota Vikings, 1966)
- Ended the longest game in NFL history (82 min. 40 sec.) on Christmas Day, 1971 (37-yard field goal, Dolphins vs. Kansas City Chiefs, divisional playoffs)
- Leading scorer of the 1972 Super Bowl Champion Miami Dolphins, the only undefeated team in NFL history
- Two time NFL Pro Bowl selection (1974, 1979)
- Three time NFL All Pro selection
- Voted Most Valuable Player in 1974 Pro Bowl after kicking five field goals to win for the AFC (15-13)
- Kicked a record 20 consecutive field goals without a miss (1979).
- Played in three Super Bowls (VI, VII, and VIII), scoring in all three for a total of 11 points
- Nominated to The Pro Football Hall of Fame
- Member of The Florida Sports Hall of Fame
- Scored over 1,000 points and converted over 200 field goals
- Recipient of numerous national and local awards for both sporting achievements and humanitarian efforts
In 2013, Garo and his former 1972 “Perfect Season” undefeated Miami Dolphin teammates were honored by President Obama during a special ceremony at the White House: