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The last call for Number 39
Tom Archdeacon
July 30, 1979
Larry Csonka has not heard too many cheers since he left Miami in 1975, but now he is back with the Dolphins, hoping to relive the Super Bowl days in his final season
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July 30, 1979

The Last Call For Number 39

Larry Csonka has not heard too many cheers since he left Miami in 1975, but now he is back with the Dolphins, hoping to relive the Super Bowl days in his final season

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The Pompano Beach night club is advertised as the house of rock 'n' roll. The big sign out front is shattered on one side, but the other half bears the name of the club in script—Stagger Lee's.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning the place is jammed. Louie DeFranco, known on stage as Louie D, is putting on his third show of the night. He roars through a medley of '50s and '60s rock while the audience, in a room of dim red light and black plastic, relives the good old days when Chuck Berry and Little Richard were heroes.

"What time is it?" screams Louie. "It's party time!" yells the audience. Louie and his seven-member backup group—including one guitarist wearing a rubber bathing cap, another with an Afro dyed like a woolly rainbow and a third wearing shorts decorated in glitter—break into a Chubby Checker twist.

Suddenly a 6'4", 250-pound rookie football player for the Miami Dolphins jumps onto the stage with a tiny little girl and begins to twist. Envious teammates in the audience whistle approval.

The walls behind the long winding bar are covered with red carpet bearing piano keyboards and quarter notes, leftovers from the days when the place was the Keyboard Cabaret.

Beers are $2.25, mixed drinks a quarter more. The cocktail girls wear tight, skimpy outfits and thin gold belts. A dozen glossies of recording stars of two decades past hang on the walls.

Bonnie, the female vocalist, walks up to the microphone to sing her version of Janis Joplin's Mercedes Benz. She looks straight into the back of the club as she warbles.

"Oh Lord won't you buy me a number 39
I mean Larry Csonka, 'cause I wouldn't mind
If he tried to tackle me any old time
So oh Lord won't you buy me a number 39."

She sings to the big man with the crooked nose who is leaning against the back bar. He fidgets with the glass he is holding in an enormous hand that is adorned with a thick Super Bowl ring. It is Larry Csonka, who owns an interest in Stagger Lee's, having purchased it the previous week, and he is embarrassed.

He has been minding his own business, picking up bar tabs for his Dolphin teammates, including several rookies he doesn't even know by name. Couples, singles, they keep straggling up and asking for an autograph. Or they congratulate him for coming home.

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