April 27, 2011
MIAMI, Fla. -- Jim Mandich, the captain and All-America tight end for coach Bo Schembechler's 1969 University of Michigan football team, passed away today (Tuesday, April 26) at the age of 62 after a long bout with bile duct cancer. Mandich was named to the Michigan Hall of Honor in 1994 and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
"Jim was a Michigan Man in every way," said U-M director of athletics Dave Brandon. "He did so much for our football program and our university as a student-athlete, supporter, donor and ambassador of positive energy. After his pro career with the Miami Dolphins, he became an important leader in southern Florida, helping the Dolphins and the Miami community in countless ways.
"Captain Jim Mandich led a team that changed Michigan football for decades to follow," Brandon added. "He was a legendary player and an even better person. He will be missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family as they grieve the loss of a great husband and father."
Not only did Mandich captain the 1969 Michigan team to a 24-12 upset of Ohio State, he also played tight end on the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins team.
As a player at Michigan, Mandich was undersized to play the position of tight end. He caught 51 passes during the 1969 season, including 10 passes against Purdue. Mandich caught 14 passes (six against OSU and eight in the Rose Bowl against Southern Cal) during the final two games of his career.
He was a second-round NFL draft pick (29th pick overall) of the Dolphins in 1970 and played through the 1978 season, finishing his career with one year in Pittsburgh. Mandich played in four Super Bowls and won three world championships (Dolphins 1973, '74; Steelers, 1979).
Because of his tenacity, charisma and his quick wit, Mandich eventually became known as "Mad Dog Mandich" while playing with Dolphins.
A successful businessman as a contractor in the Miami area, Mandich also hosted sports radio shows and worked as the color analyst for the Dolphins where the moniker "Mad Dog Mandich" really caught on. The soft-spoken leader in college developed a persona of a charismatic, humorous broadcaster with an edge.
Even though Mandich had to give up the talk show due to his health early in 2010, he continued to work as the Dolphins' radio color analyst through the 2010 season.
"He had a certain swagger on the field and he never lost it," added Brandon. "He was truly an admirable man and a great friend of the University of Michigan."
Mandich is survived by his wife, Bonnie, and three sons, Mike (U-M football 2001-04), Mark and Nick.
Media Contact: David Ablauf (734) 763-4423