Recently, I was researching the undefeated teams of the 1973 season by watching Penn State play LSU in the Orange Bowl. Yes, watching football can be research, too, so give me a break here.
While watching, I started noticing a player on the LSU defensive line. I was going to look him up later, but then the announcers began discussing him. They called him Adam Duhe which really went right over my head. I had no recollection of an Adam Duhe. But, he had a story because he was an outstanding football player and a long term starter for the Tigers.
Upon looking him up, a little bell went off in my head when I saw him listed as A.J. Duhe. Now, that name held plenty of memories for me. AJ Duhe was a great one and particularly later on in his life in
A.J. Duhe grew up near the small town of Reserve, Louisiana which is about as Louisiana as they come. He went to high school at Leon Godchaux High School which supposedly burned to the ground some time after he graduated.
There weren’t any real recruiting rankings back in those days and supposedly LSU only recruited A.J. Duhe after he blocked 3 punts in a high school all star game. But, recruit him they did and like most kids growing up in the state of Louisiana his dream had been to play for the local school.
At LSU, Duhe moved right into the lineup and what was impressive is that Adam was only 17 years old through the first 9 or 10 games of his freshman year. He turned 18 when his first season as a starter was just about over. He was also really dominating up front. Not huge by today’s standards, still the 6-4, 245 Duhe used superior quickness and athletic ability to continue to get past the guy blocking him and make tackles, or rush the passer.
Here was this freshman defensive lineman from little Reserve, Louisiana playing in the Orange Bowl against undefeated Penn State with Heisman Trophy winning running back John Cappelletti and he was more than holding his own. Duhe did more than hold his own, he dominated the line of
LSU lost that game, 6-16, but finished the 1973 season with a 9-3 record and a second place finish to Alabama in the SEC.
1974 was not a good year for the LSU Tigers and head coach Charlie McClendon. They finished with a 5-5-1 record with a lot of close losses. The only team to really blow them out was Alabama, who beat them 0-30. The low point of the season may not have been the loss to the Crimson Tide, but a tie against lowly Rice, in Houston. The Rice Owls finished with a 2-8-1 record making the tie extremely embarrassing.
The defense, led by AJ Duhe, Steve Cassidy, Kenny Borderlon and a few others did it’s job week after week. But, the offense really struggled that season.
The offense continued to struggle through the 1975 season and the Tigers slumped to a brutal 4-7 record. They played a really tough schedule and 6 ranked teams along the way.
A.J. Duhe was named Academic All SEC, but otherwise didn’t get the credit he deserved. He was a fiery leader all through his career including his college football playing days.
The Tigers started to get it together in 1976 and at least partly due to the play of running backs Terry Robiskie and Charles Alexander. Robiskie ran for 1,117 yards and Alexander for another 876 yards as the Tigers improved to 6-4-1 on the season.
Duhe was once again an Academic All SEC.
Duhe was a 4 year starter for LSU and he averaged 72 tackles per season which is really good for a defensive tackle.
Maybe the people that vote on honors for college football players didn’t notice Duhe so much, but the Miami Dolphins did and they picked him with their 1st round pick in the 1977 NFL Draft. Mel Kiper was not around back then, but if he had been he would probably have been criticizing the Dolphin’s brass for their 1st round choice.
But, he would have been wrong.
Just like in college, Duhe was an instant star in the NFL. He moved right into the starting position at defensive end as a rookie and he was the defensive rookie of the year in 1977. He led the team in sacks regularly, but eventually the Miami defensive coordinator, Bill Arnsparger, wanted Duhe to
move to linebacker.
Naturally, never having played linebacker, Duhe was uncomfortable with his coverages. But, Arnsparger was a great football mind and helped Duhe considerably.
At the time, I really liked the NFL almost as much as college football and A.J. Duhe was one of my favorite players.
He was a part of the famed Killer Bees defense which featured 6 starters and several back ups that had last names that started with the letter B. Defensive linemen Kim Bokamper, Doug Betters and Bob Baumhower, plus linebacker Bob Brudzinski and brother defensive backs Glenn and Lyle Blackwood were the guys with the B last names. But, Duhe, Vern Den Herder and Don McNeal were also very good players.
In the NFL, A.J. Duhe will probably most be remembered for his game against the New York Jets in the 1982 playoffs. The Dolphins had home field advantage and it had rained severely in Miami. The field had not been covered by a tarp making the conditions really muddy. Duhe grew up in a swampy area and he probably found the conditions ideal.
In one of the NFL’s all time best playoff performances, Duhe picked off former Alabama quarterback Richard Todd now playing for the Jets, 3 times. One of the interceptions led to a Miami touchdown, and another, Duhe took all the way back for a score with the Dolphins prevailing 14-0.
The controversy at the time is that the Miami Dolphins did not cover the field when the torrential rains fell. It was a miserable game for Richard Todd and the field, but it was Duhe’s most famous game. He had 2 career interceptions coming in and left the game with 3 more.
Duhe was a Pro Bowler and one of the Dolphin’s all time greatest players. He got out of the game after 8 seasons in the NFL when the injuries started piling up, but his game against the Jets will never be forgotten.
While he will never be another Paul Newman, Duhe did a little acting while he played football. He
appeared in an episode of Miami Vice as a tough inmate. He also played in a football movie starring Dennis Quaid called Everybody’s All American. Supposedly, while filming the football scenes, Duhe either broke Quaid’s arm, or separated his shoulder. Either way, Quaid might should have gotten somebody tougher to stand in for him going against an animal like A.J. Duhe.
Duhe was loved by his teammates. At Miami, he was the talkative leader of the team and especially the defense. He was very vocal and a very high energy guy. Even at the end of games when everyone else was tired, he lifted up and encouraged teammates to keep fighting.
He’s also a very humble guy, both on and off the field.
Teammates also liked Duhe because his parents always brought gumbo to training camp. They were from Louisiana, after all.
Duhe coached a couple of seasons of Arena football and another season in NFL Europe, but he never could catch on with either an NFL team, or a college team.
So, he became a marketer with a Casino in the Bahamas. Not a bad place to live out your life.