Hall of Famer Larry Csonka, whose jump to the World Football League signaled the end of the Dolphins’ dynasty in the 1970s, pointed a finger at owner Joe Robbie on Saturday, writing that neither he nor teammates Paul Warfield and Jim Kiick wanted to leave Miami.
Robbie’s feuding with agent Ed Keating twice got in the way of Csonka returning to the Dolphins after the WFL folded, according to a blog Csonka posted on his website Saturday.
When Csonka finally returned to the Dolphins in 1979 after a four-year absence, he did so by circumventing Robbie and negotiating directly with coach Don Shula.
“That deal was agreed to in just 3 days and in 1979 we made the playoffs,” Csonka wrote.
The historic saga began when Csonka, Kiick and Warfield traveled to Toronto to negotiate with John Bassett. The players were armed with a lengthy list of demands, including salary, bonuses, endorsements, luxury apartments, cars and travel expenses. Bassett agreed, with a catch: The players had to sign before leaving Toronto.
Csonka spoke to Shula and waited for a call from Robbie, “which never came,” Csonka wrote.
That account matches what Kiick told The Post in 2005.
“I could understand why he doesn’t want me, but he doesn’t want you,’ ” Kiick said he told Csonka, referring to Robbie. “ … He never gave us a call.”
The WFL disappeared in October 1975, but rather than jumping at the chance to re-sign the popular Csonka, Robbie still feuded with Keating, Csonka wrote. So Csonka became a free agent.
Csonka said he still was willing to return to Miami for less. Eventually, Robbie asked Csonka for an “outline” to negotiate. Fearing that Robbie wouldn’t keep the outline private, which would hurt his bargaining power with other teams if it came to that, Keating sent Robbie a copy of the original deal with Bassett.
“Needless to say, Robbie exploded and immediately had my ‘demands’ published in The Miami Herald – calling it ridiculous and absurd to expect such a deal,” Csonka wrote.
That explains why Csonka spent the 1976-78 seasons with the New York Giants.
Returning to the Dolphins in 1979 at age 33 reinvigorated Csonka. In his final NFL season, Csonka rushed for 837 yards and 12 touchdowns — his most productive season since gaining 1,003 yards for the 1973 Super Bowl team.
“I am happy Coach Shula and I were able to come to terms in 1979 and I was able to end my career with him and the Miami fans,” Csonka wrote.
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