The Dolphins have switched between a 3-4 defense and a 4-3 through the years, with the 3-4 being the system currently used. The team has had some good nose tackles, but it’s difficult to find one better than Bob Baumhower. A second-round pick in 1977, Baumhower was a mainstay on the Dolphins “Killer B’s” defense for 10 years, earning five Pro Bowl invitations. He was inducted into the Dolphin Honor Roll along with former teammate Doug Betters on Aug. 14, 2008. Baumhower reflected on his days with the Dolphins and his post-football career in this interview.
Q: Is there a story behind the name “Killer B’s,” and who came up with it?
A: I guess we were consistently ranked pretty high and I believe it was in 1982 when we were the No. 1-ranked defense. Somebody wanted to put a name on us but nobody really knew what to call us. It was an interesting group of guys (defensively speaking). So many of the guys’ last names started with the letter “B” in our group (i.e. Glenn Blackwood, Lyle Blackwood, Kim Bokamper, Bob Brudzinski, myself with Baumhower, etc.). I think one of the reporters came up with it and began calling us the “Killer B’s.” It got a little cheesy there. We cut an album, we tried a couple of records and we had posters made. I don’t know if you’ve seen any of those posters, but they’re pretty cheesy posters (laughing). We had a really great group of guys. They all loved playing the game.
Q: What do you miss the most about playing in the NFL?
A: Well, I really loved the camaraderie. We had a lot of guys that did a lot together. Sometimes it would be 10 or 20 of us all going out to dinner at the same time. And during the offseason we’d be going fishing, going bowling, etc. We just had a neat group of guys. We really enjoyed being together. Those were really neat relationships. All of us still stay in touch to a certain degree today.
Q: What part of football do you miss the most?
A: I never played nose guard in college, I was a defensive end, so to speak. And I played nose guard my whole career. Man, I loved being in the middle there, taking on one, two or three guys and taking the best they got and being able to give them something in return to where they knew they’d been in a game. I miss that. I miss that, I miss the ability to be able to get rid of all of your frustrations by head-butting somebody (laughing) and taking it out on the running back or the quarterback. You get away from the game, there’s just nothing that can replace that rush you get from just going mano-a-mano and giving it everything you’ve got, and 99 percent of the time the guys you play against are good guys and put it out there on the field, then after the game you’re shaking hands and giving hugs to your opponents and walk away and get ready for next week. It’s just something right to the world that I know.
Q: You played your entire career under Don Shula. What’s your opinion of him?
A: Well, he was the best ever. It’s funny because I can remember when I first came to Miami I was talking at a group function and I always tell people that I had the opportunity to play for the best coach of all time in Coach Bear Bryant (in college football), now I get to come to Miami and play for the best coach of all time in pro football. I just think he was great with the motivational piece as far as keeping the distractions down to a minimum. You just don’t do what he did, win as many games as he won unless you’re just a great coach. I was blessed and very fortunate to have been able to play for him.
Q: What is the most important thing that you’ve come to learn about yourself that has helped you progress as a player and a person?
A: What I was telling you earlier about Coach Bryant is if you believed in yourself and you worked hard that you could do special things, no matter who you are. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you believe in who you are and you’re committed and you work hard, I mean, you conscientiously give it your all, you can do special things. You can make a difference. That mentality, even at 55, if you think that way, I don’t care how old you are, it’s just something that I’ve learned and continue to learn is that it’s how you think and how you feel about yourself that determines your level of happiness. That’s probably my biggest lesson because I didn’t always have a lot of confidence. I wasn’t always the guy. I didn’t start playing ball until I was a junior in high school, so I never really had a vision for myself (in this league), I didn’t always think I could do special things. Coach Bryant gave it to me, having a good mentality. If you think that way, you’ll surprise yourself in what you can get done.
Q: What do you consider the greatest achievement of your career?
A: Probably the Dolphin Honor Roll. Being remembered after all those years. The joy for me, just to be drafted by Miami. You know I went to the University of Alabama. I moved to Florida and went to Palm Beach Gardens High School and eventually became a Dolphins fan in high school. So I was in high school when they were going undefeated in Florida. So I was a big Dolphins fan. And so, just getting drafted by Miami, my favorite team, was a huge plus for me. But then to be remembered after doing everything that I was blessed to experience and to be remembered in that Dolphin Honor Roll is just amazing.
Q: Are you involved in any business ventures?
A: Well, I’m in the restaurant business. The first restaurant I was ever involved in was Bachelor’s III, which was in Fort Lauderdale. That was with Joe Namath and Richard Todd. We were all buddies and I got involved with Bachelor’s III. One day, I was invited to go eat lunch with a teammate back in 1979-80, Steve Towle, who was the Miami Dolphins MVP in 1976. We went to Wings & Things. I didn’t know what the heck Steve Towle was talking about when he said buffalo-style wings when he first asked me (laughing). Back in the day, buffalo style wings weren’t around. I met the guy who owns Wings & Things, Eddie Hauck, and we became buddies. Long story short, he helped me open my first wing restaurant in 1981 when I was still playing and then when I retired in the late ’80s that’s what I figured I’d do. So I got into the restaurant business full time and I eventually retired. We have restaurants all throughout the state of Alabama and they’re called Baumhower’s.
Q: How did learning under Bear Bryant and Don Shula prepare you for running a business?
A: Oh yeah, it’s huge. Coach Bryant put something in me where he always used to tell us that we were all special in one way or another. And he gave me the belief that I could do something special and then he gave me the desire to be the best that I could be, and he doesn’t get enough credit for that. Coach Bryant is phenomenal that way where he would make you believe that you could go the mile. And so that got me on my way. And then Coach Shula’s unending discipline and focus and vision and belief that we were always going to be playing for the big one. I mean, we always came into the season with the idea that we would get to the playoffs, and, then we were going to get to the Super Bowl. So we were always moving forward in a way that we thought big. Both of those men were organized. Both of them were good men, they were disciplined. They cared about their players, and all of those things transfer well to the business world. If you transfer those principles to business, business is no different than playing sports. You’ve got to be able to build a team, you’ve got to have a direction, you’ve got to have focus, and you have to have a vision. All of those principles carry over to business and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t use something that I learned from one of them or both of them.
Q: Who was your favorite athlete/sports team growing up?
A: I was a big Manny Fernandez fan. I watched Manny. I liked Manny. Manny Fernandez was always one of those guys that stuck out to me when I would watch. Manny was an amazing guy in the middle. They had moved him to nose. And when Miami beat the Redskins to go undefeated in the Super Bowl, Manny Fernandez to me had the greatest game I’ve ever seen a defensive lineman have. It was phenomenal. He absolutely dominated the middle there.
Q: Who was the toughest offensive lineman you ever faced?
A: Dwight Stephenson of the Miami Dolphins (laughing). We had to go at each other every day. But then Dwight made himself into the absolute best center ever in the NFL. Now, I will tell you, on the other side in the games (as an opponent), the best offensive lineman that I ever played against was John Hannah. It’s funny because before Dwight the Dolphins had Jim Langer, Larry Little and Bob Kuechenberg. That was the best middle three as far as a center and two guards that I’ve ever played against. In fact, my rookie year in training camp, I didn’t think I could play pro ball because those three guys just absolutely made me feel like a pinball at times at training camp (laughing). I was fortunate to be able to practice against some of the best ever, which made it a lot easier for me to play competitively against the other guys. But John Hannah was a very good player.”
Q: Which current NFL player(s) do you watch most closely today?
A: Lately, I’ve really enjoyed watching
Q: What is the best advice that you would give to a current Dolphins player if he asked you?
A: To me, what kept me going — and things change with the level of exposure, but the thing that I never stopped doing — is I always played because of the love of the game. I never played for the money. I think you should always play for the love of the game. And if you do that, then you’re always going to give it your best. You’re always going to be the best that you can be. That’s my advice, is to always do that. If you’re going to be good at something, in other words, whether it’s what you’re doing now or what I do in the restaurant business or it’s playing ball, you need to do it because you love it if you’re going to be special at it. To be able to play in the NFL is a blessing, it’s a gift. And I don’t care how hard you work, there’s so many people trying to get there. To get there is definitely a gift and a blessing. You should always play for the love of the game. Not for the money, not for fame, you should play for the love of the game.