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From perfect to practice for doc

About once a year, a patient will recognize his name: Wait a minute, aren't you the guy who used to play for the Dolphins?

About once a year, a patient will recognize his name: Wait a minute, aren't you the guy who used to play for the Dolphins?

He is indeed. Dr. Doug Swift, former NFL linebacker and key member of the 1972 Dolphins, has been an anesthesiologist at Pennsylvania Hospital for 22 years. He quit football at 27 to enroll in medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. He turned 59 in October.

"It's preposterous when I think that I played [pro football]," Swift said. "But it was just a part of growing up."

Swift came out of Amherst College in 1970 and worked his way on to the Miami Dolphins as a free agent. He played in three Super Bowls and won two, including the one that made history following 1972, the only perfect season in modern NFL history.

"We squeaked along most of the way," he pointed out. "We were underdogs the whole year. Even in the Super Bowl [when Washington was a three-point favorite]. Miami was a nonentity then."

Geography and novelty had a lot to do with this. The Dolphins started playing only in 1966 and they beat venerable franchises Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Washington in the postseason. It was sort of like watching the Florida Marlins win the World Series in 1997.

Swift played in 78 games in his 6-year career. He had three interceptions in the '72 regular season and two more in the playoff game against Cleveland.

"One of the neat things about that team was its innocence," Swift once said. "We were a bunch of young guys who didn't know enough to be scared. We never stopped to think, 'Gee, maybe we shouldn't be winning all these games.' We just went out and played."

He hasn't seen much of the Patriots this season, although he tried his best to hang for their game against the Eagles on Sunday night, Nov. 25. "That was too late for me," he said. "I set my clock to get up at 11:30 and was [miffed] when it became apparent the Eagles were going to lose."

Swift says he's not rooting one way or another for the Patriots, who tomorrow can become the second modern team to go through a regular season unbeaten. Rather than follow the Patriots-Giants game, the former 6-3, 225-pound linebacker has other plans, thanks to his wife, Donna Wargo.

"I'm probably just going to do some housekeeping," said Swift, who lives in Center City. "My wife's good at keeping me organized. I'll put on a headset with an iPod and do some vacuuming, dusting and laundry." *