Earl Morrall: Former Miami Dolphins quarterback dead at 79

Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Earl Morrall, a Naples resident, died Friday morning.

Morrall, 79, played 21 seasons in the NFL from 1956-76, the latter portion of them with the Dolphins. In 1972, when starter Bob Griese was injured, Morrall helped the undefeated team stay that way, until Griese replaced him in the AFC Championship Game and went on to win the Super Bowl. Still, Morrall was named the AFC Player of the Year, and won the inaugural NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award.

Morrall held a charity golf tournament in Southwest Florida for 12 years, and also hosted events involving the Dolphins.

"He's been in a struggle with his health for a while now," said Ryan Richeal, who worked in marketing with the Dolphins from 2003-2009, and helped run Morralll's charity golf tournament. "Everybody has been trying to prepare for this. When you have somebody like Earl Morrall who's a legend on and off the field, it's still very difficult in the end."

The former Michigan State Spartans quarterback also replaced legendary Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas after an injury in 1968, leading the Colts to a 13-1 record.

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