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Journalism Showcase: E60 Producer Discusses How New Documentary On Undefeated ’72 Dolphins Puts Fresh Perspective on 50-Year-Old Story

"The Perfect Machine" is a product of 17 new interviews, finds from ESPN's archives and rare vintage footage from the Miami Dolphins' 1966 inaugural season

How do you put a fresh perspective on a story that’s been told many times? That’s what Dan Lindberg was challenged with as he produced the new E60 episode “The Perfect Machine,” which looks back at the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only team to complete an undefeated season in NFL history.

The one-hour program debuts Sunday at noon ET on ABC and ESPN+ and re-airs on ESPN2 at 11 p.m.

Much coverage has been dedicated to the team that made history 50 years ago. But Lindberg had a plan for making sure E60’s presentation was different.

“What I wanted to do was try and get as many guys from that team in the show as possible,” said Lindberg. “Whether it was fresh interviews with anyone who’s still alive or for anyone who’s deceased, going through the ESPN archives and seeing if there was anything in it that could help us tell this story.”

He found that many interviews done for the episode of ESPN Classic’s Sportscentury on Dolphins coach Don Shula almost 20 years ago were readily available. For the members of the team still living, Lindberg and reporter Jeremy Schaap conducted 17 interviews, many of them in October when the team was honored with a gala in Miami.

Another aspect of the E60 program that sets it apart from others is the use of very rare archived video of Dolphins’ training camps, practices, and interviews from not only 1972 but back to when the team was founded in 1966. Lindberg was amazed at what he found in Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Archives.

“What I think E60 does really well – and I think is a pillar of our storytelling – is in-the-moment sound,” he said. “When you’re describing something that happens, you want to hear somebody talk about that from the time period right after it happened if you can. And that’s easier said than done. When I started looking into this piece, I didn’t think we’d have a shot of getting much because it had been 50 years.

“What we really wanted to do was tell the story of how this team came together, and the ’72 season was the culmination of a chain of events that started in 1966,” he said.

“I was impressed with how reflective many of these guys were because it was 50 years,” Lindberg said. “I think a lot of them feel, and told us as much, that this is kind of a last hurrah – a lot of these guys are in their 70s, and they don’t feel that they’re going to be around for the 75th anniversary.

“I think it just hit home for a lot of these guys. I saw it with my own eyes.”

Spencer T. Jackson and Bea Panitz produced the Jeremy Schaap interview video

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