With members including Dan Marino, Larry Csonka, and Nat Moore, the Dolphins Honor Roll the ring of the names that lines the second tier of Sun Life Stadium would make for quite the offensive powerhouse. Fifteen of the 20 former players that are on the Honor Roll were offensive players.
This year, though, the defensive side of the Honor Roll is getting quite the boost, as former defensive coordinator Bill Arnsparger and former Dolphins stars Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor will be inaugurated into the group this season.
The team announced before Fridays preseason game, Thomas, Taylor and Arnspargers son David were present for the announcement, as was Thomas and Taylors former coach Jimmy Johnson. It was an emotional evening for Thomas, who cried while he was making his remarks.
Thomas said he owed his career to his former coach Jimmy Johnson, who let the then-third-string linebacker play during his first preseason game.
I dont want to look at you, Coach, because I might really choke up, Thomas said. He gave me that chance, he gave me that opportunity on that day. Thank you, Coach. Thanks for keeping my dream alive.
Taylor said that for years as a player he would look up at the names surrounding the field.
Senior Vice President and fellow Honor Roll member Nat Moore called Thomas and Taylor the greatest defensive players in Dolphins history and explained that it would be fitting that the inauguration ceremony for the two players will occur during halftime of Oct. 14 game against the Rams.
St. Louis is a team that prides itself on offense, and whats more fitting than throwing out our best two defensive players ever in the history of the Miami Dolphins that day, Moore said.
Two months later a separate inauguration ceremony will take place for Bill Arnsparger, who was the defensive coordinator for Miami from 1970-73 and 1976-83. The Dec. 16 ceremony will take place when dozens of the members of the 17-0 1972 team will be in attendance, as they will also be honored. The 1972 team was inducted into the Honor Roll in 1992.
This is the greatest honor that my father has received in his long coaching career, David Arnsparger said.
The 85-year-old Arnsparger did not attend the ceremony because of his age, his son said. Arnsberger will be the second coach to be inducted in the Dolphins Honor Roll, joining 1996 inductee Don Shula.
Moore said that members of the Honor Roll or chosen based upon three characteristics achievement, longevity, and character. Johnson especially emphasized the final category in explaining why he had no qualms that Thomas and Taylor were being honored so soon after their 2009 and 2011 retirements.
You coach a lot of guys over the 35, 40 years that I coached, Johnson said. [Thomas and Taylor] arent just players. These are special individuals Theyre not up there because how big and fast they are. Theyre up there because of their character.
Thomas said that it would be an emotional moment when his children get to see their fathers name next to so many Dolphins greats.
We have two beautiful kids, so its going to be special when I take them to a football game and Im sitting there and my son says Dad, is that your name up there? I dont have to say nothing, Thomas said. I just have to nod my head, proud.