Over the years the Miami Dolphins have seen some incredible talents walk through their doors, even if not as many the past decade or so. The latest of those is Tua Tagovailoa, who is just one of several that could have bright NFL futures ahead, but instead of speculating over what lays ahead we’re going to look back at some of the stars from yesteryear.
Here is a list of five of the best to have donned the Dolphins jersey.
Number 5. Zach Thomas
Even allowing for the fact that Thomas was a round five pick, his arrival in Miami was underwhelming to say the least. He had a decent college career at Texas Tech but question marks remained over his size and attitude.
By the time he retired after a 13-year NFL career, those questions had been well and truly answered. Seven Pro-Bowls, five first team All-Pro honours and he was twice named Linebacker of the year.
All bar one of his professional years were spent with the Dolphins – the other being at the end of his career in Dallas – and he called it a day having landed 1,700 tackles. Doubters, what doubters?
And he should be in the Hall of Fame.
Number 4. Dwight Stephenson
Stephenson was snapped up in round two of the 1980 draft after he’d been part of the Crimson Tide side that had just won back to back National Championships. He wasn’t the headline maker of the Dolphins but he was a big player and was a vital cog as they made two Super Bowls in three years during the mid-eighties.
Of course, Stevenson might be held in even higher regard had he not been forced to call time on his career after just seven years. Then again, five Pro-Bowls and five All-Pro awards in consecutive seasons along side winning the NFL Man of the Year award and being named in the 100th anniversary side isn’t a shabby legacy.
Number 3. Larry Little
For a brief moment it looked like Little had missed his chance to compete at the top when he went undrafted. The San Diego Chargers offered him a chance though and two years later he was jetting into Miami. Little wasn’t keen on the move but he quickly had an impact on the Dolphins. Fast forward five years and he had made three Super Bowls – winning two – and had been honoured with five All-Pro and four Pro-Bowls. From there on out Little was a Dolphin through and through before retiring in 1980.
Number 2. Larry Csonka
Csonka was a machine that would not be stopped. He was the Dolphins round one pick in 1968 but a couple of serious blows to his head early on in his pro career left things in the balance. He overcame the odds to return to the field. Thank goodness he did. Four seasons followed with Csonka an ever present in the team.
Of those four years, the final three ended in Super Bowl appearances with the Dolphins triumphant in 1973 and 74. Csonka was named Bowl MVP for his contribution in the latter. He moved on after that but couldn’t stay away and returned in 1979 for one last season, which saw him awarded the comeback award after recording a career high of 12 rushing touchdowns. Who says ‘never go back’?
Number 1. Dan Marino
Then there was one – Dan Marino. Who else? We’ve touched on the team that dominated in the early to mid-seventies and it’s fair to say that if Marino played then, he would not have looked out of place.
For 17 years he loyally served the Dolphins as he carried them to 10 play-off appearances but, sadly, just one Super Bowl, which ended in defeat. If anyone deserved the glory of a Super Bowl win then it was Marino too. However, just like a horse who underachieves in the Kentucky Derby odds, Marino never quite made it as far as he deserved.
Over his career he threw more than 61,000 yards with his second season seeing him throw 48 touchdowns and 5,084 yards – records that stood for 20 and 27 years respectively. We could list all his honours but, quite frankly, that would be exhausting instead we leave you with the thought that this is just a snapshot of what Marino achieved – nine Pro-Bowls, five years of leading the league on passing yards, another three where he led on passing touchdowns, a league MVP award and a place in the Hall of Fame.
There you have it, five legendary Dolphins. Over to you, class of 2020, just some small shoes to fill.