The anchor of the Miami offensive line during the Dolphins' championship years of the 1970s, James John Langer, born May 16, 1948, passed away on August 29 at the age of 71.
Considered among the greatest NFL centers of all time, Langer was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1987 and is one of only four Dolphins players to be elected to the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility (Dan Marino, Paul Warfield, Jason Taylor).
Langer played middle linebacker at South Dakota State University, where in 1969 he was Honorable Mention All-America. After graduating with a B.S. in economics, he was signed by the Cleveland Browns as a free agent in 1970, but was cut during training camp. Langer was picked up on waivers by the Dolphins and, after spending most of the year on the taxi squad, played in the final five games of 1970, mainly on special teams. After serving as a backup at center the following season, he won the starting job in 1972, and he would hold that job until he was sidelined with a knee injury in 1979.
A consensus All-Pro from 1973-77, Langer was a six-time Pro Bowl selection (five times as a starter). Over a 10-year period from 1970-79, he played in 128 straight games. He also made 109 consecutive starts between 1972-79. Voted the team's Most Valuable Player by South Florida media in 1975, Langer also holds the distinction of having played every offensive down in the Dolphins' perfect 1972 season.
Wanting to spend the final years of his career near his home of Royalton, Minnesota, Langer was traded in 1980 — at his own request — to the Minnesota Vikings, for whom he played for two seasons (1980-81).
On Nov. 19, 1990, he was enshrined on the Dolphins Honor Roll at Hard Rock Stadium. He also was a charter inductee in the Dolphins' Walk of Fame on Dec. 4, 2011 and was voted as one of the Dolphins' all-time top 50 players, as part of the franchise's 50th season celebration in 2015.
Additionally, the Jim Langer Award is presented to the nation's top NCAA Division II lineman each year in his honor.
Langer is survived by his wife, Linda, and four children.