Arnsparger Under Consideration for Lifetime Award

Alain Poupart

Longtime defensive coordinator Bill Arnsparger arguably is the best assistant coach in Miami Dolphins history, and his brilliant career has been acknowledged by the Pro Football Writers Association.

Arnsparger is among the eight nominees for the 2020 Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman Award for lifetime achievement as an assistant coach in the NFL.

It's one of six awards the PFWA will be handing out, with the winners announced starting June 22.

There will be two Zimmerman Award recipients this year and the other nominees are Romeo Crennel, Dick Hoak, Rod Marinelli, Bobb McKittrick, Floyd Peters, Buddy Ryan and Bobby Turner.

Arnsparger had two stints as Dolphins defensive coordinators and he helped the team reach the Super Bowl during each of them.

He, of course, was the architect of the No-Name Defense that helped the Dolphins win back-to-back Super Bowls and produced the only perfect season in NFL history. Arnsparger introduced the "53" defense during that time, whereby Bob Matheson (who wore 53) came onto the field as a fourth linebacker in obvious passing situations.

After that second Super Bowl, Arnsparger was hired as head coach of the New York Giants but he was fired midway through the 1976 season.

Shula, who first had met Arnsparger when both were assistants at the University of Kentucky in 1959 and had hired him as his defensive line coach for the Baltimore Colts in 1964, re-hired Arnsparger two days after the Giants let him go.

It was under Arnsparger's guidance that the Dolphins' Killer B's defense emerged. Nicknamed because of the unusually high number of starters whose last name began with B (Doug Better, Bob Baumhower, Kim Bokamper, Bob Brudzinski, Glenn Blackwood, Lyle Blackwood), the Killer B's helped the Dolphins reach the Super Bowl in the strike-shortened 1982 season.

Arnsparger left near the end of the 1983 season to take over as head coach at LSU and then became University of Florida athletic director, but returned to the NFL in 1992 as defensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers. In his final season in the NFL, he helped the Chargers reach the Super Bowl.

Arnsparger passed away in Alabama in 2015 at the age of 88.

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