Hanalei’s Scott Knows Perfection

Hanalei’s Jake Scott was MVP of Super Bowl XLII. Photos from David Simon

It was a discussion that became annual tradition for the better part of four decades. As weeks progressed in the NFL season, analysts would begin to wonder if one team might have what it takes to go undefeated. Despite many attempts that migrated well into the season’s second half, until 2007, the 1972 Miami Dolphins were the standard-bearer as the only successful undefeated team in league history.

Four seasons ago, the New England Patriots did what many thought unthinkable and pulled off a 16-0 regular season. But the strain of perfection clearly took its toll in the postseason and the Pats a doubledigit favorite over the New York Giants were unable to end the storybook season with a championship, losing 17-14 in the closing minute of Super Bowl XLII.

One man on Kaua’i knows what the true storybook ending feels like. Hanalei’s Jake Scott was the free safety on that perfect 1972 Dolphins championship squad that went 14-0 and won it all. On Dec. 6, the defensive ball hawk was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame for his amazing career at the University of Georgia.

One of 16 inductees in the 2011 class, Scott still holds the Georgia record for career interceptions with 16. He led the conference with six picks in 1967, then again with 10 in 1968.

Jake Scott intercepts a pass in the end zone to help seal the NFL’s ony perfect season

He continued to read quarterbacks’ eyes in the NFL, compiling 49 interceptions in his nine-year career, which is good for 39th all-time. On the biggest stage of all, Scott showed what he did best not once, but twice. His pair of takeaways in the Dolphins’ 147 Super Bowl VII win over the Washington Redskins certified perfection and earned Scott the Super Bowl MVP award. Just 46 players in league history have received the honor, only two of them safeties.

For years it was urban legend that once the last undefeated NFL team finally lost its first game of the season, the 1972 Dolphins would all crack a bottle of champagne and toast another year as the only perfect squad the league has ever known.

While that isn’t exactly how it happens, Scott and his former teammates haven’t been able to celebrate yet this season. The Green Bay Packers entered Week 15 with a 13-0 record and looking more cool and calm than those ’07 Patriots. As the defending Super Bowl champions, nobody has beaten the Packers since a 31-27 loss Dec. 19, 2010, in New England.

That makes 19 straight victories for Green Bay, which will try to avoid the Patriots’ plight, as well as the disappointment that comes with shattered perfection. While nobody has been able to stop quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Packers’ offensive unit, they have given up at least 23 points in seven of their wins.

The old adage is that defense wins championships. Redskins quarterback Billy Kilmer found that out in Super Bowl VII when Scott made certain a pair of his passes never reached their intended destinations.

Now we’ll see if Green Bay has what it takes defensively to join the Dolphins and toast perfection once again.