This was before the day to come, before President Obama received a "72" Dolphins jersey, before Garo Yepremian tossed him a blooper pass straight out of the Super Bowl, long hours before Marv Fleming cried with joy over the visit.
Don Shula weaved his electric scooter Tuesday morning through a hotel lobby full of aging men who had arrived early, "just as Coach Shula taught us,'' Hall of Fame fullback Larry Csonka said.
Csonka was in from Alaska. Larry Little carried a Dolphins hat, signed by the team's seven Hall of Famers, as a gift. Otto Stowe wore an "I Have A Dream" button to honor the coming 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech and Obama.
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"You're not going to speak today, are you Merc?" Shula said, stopping his scooter before the ever-loquacious Mercury Morris.
"I'm only going to politely ask the President to correct calling the '85 Bears the greatest team ever,'' Morris said.
"Oh, boy, politely, Merc,'' Marv Fleming said.
Forty-one years after their undefeated season, with their faces loosened and many knees replaced by time, the 1972 Miami Dolphins gathered for one final road trip down Pennsylvania Avenue and memory lane.
"OK, let's get going,'' Shula said, rolling to the doors. "And I don't want to have to fine anyone for being late."
The Boys of '72 were off to the White House.
Credit age. Credit nostalgia. But the long-ago nature of this honor made this trip all the more special. You could see it in them. They reached the White House at 11 a.m., went through four security checkpoints and for the next two hours had the run of the East Wing.
The Blue Room. The Green Room. Little took a picture of himself with George Washington's portrait. Dick Anderson organized team picture after team picture amid the history.
"OK, guys who arrived in '68 in here,'' he said. Click. "OK, now guys who arrived in '69 …" Click. "OK, guys who arrived in '70 …"
Then, about 1:30, a door opened. President Obama entered and did something that surprised the '72 team. He didn't just walk around the room, individually shaking hands with each of them. He joked with many. He knew their feats.
"Was this guy a great receiver or what?" he said upon meeting Paul Warfield.
"You look like you can still play,'' he said to Csonka.
"I've only got one play left and I'm saving that one,'' Csonka said.
He joked when Morris brought up the '85 Bears line. He said he couldn't recognize Little, to which the Hall of Fame guard said, "No one knows us linemen."
Upon reaching Yepremian, the great kicker famed for his interception off a botched field goal that Super Bowl, the President said, "How's your passing, Garo?"
"Well, I'm one-for-one, the highest-rated quarterback in the Super Bowl,'' Yepremian said.
"Can you still pass?" the President said.