Taylor and Thomas meant it, though.
See, their combined Dolphin timeline of 1996 through 2011 included 11 consecutive seasons (1997-2007) side by side, and when you feel that much love and support for that long, those arent fans any more, those are family. Long ago they became J.T. and Zach to us, surnames not needed.
Taylor admitted he would trade the Honor Roll induction for the never-attained Super Bowl ring. Thomas wouldnt go that far.
All you play for is a championship, but I wouldnt change one bit, Zach said. Thatd be ungrateful.
Gratitude is another thing that earns these men such a special place with fans.
Were two of the luckiest guys in the world, J.T. said.
Fans want to know, have to know, that their players care as much as they do. With Taylor and Thomas there was never a doubt.
The latter halves of their careers here were wrapped in losses. Miami was 20-44 in Thomas final four seasons and 33-63 in Taylors last six, and I can testify from a sad parade of losing locker rooms that no players took a defeat harder.
The frozen snapshots are of Taylor slumped at his locker stall, shaved head bowed and draped in a white towel. And of Thomas, the last to shed his uniform, still wearing eye black smeared by sweat, some losses leaving him angry, others nearly in tears.
STILL FIRED UP
Taylor was reserved and brief in his remarks to fans Sunday. Thomas was fired up, gesticulating, exhorting the crowd, Now lets go out and win the second half!
As he spoke, Taylors wife Zachs sister leaned into Jason and whispered, He sounds like hes s doing a WWE commercial!
Later Zach would grin and say, I was ready to strap it on right there and hit somebody!
Cam Wake, the current sack-master, was never more eager Sunday than to heap praise on the two men newly on that Honor Roll. I could be here for 35 minutes talking about everything theyve meant to me, he said.
Any Dolfan who sees brighter days ahead would hope for a team filled with players as good at what they do as Taylor and Thomas were.
More than talent, though, youd wish for a team filled with their passion.
Youd wish for a locker room full of guys who hated losing just as much.
Youd wish for players with the gratitude.
Youd wish for men like Zach Thomas who never got over the good fear that drives you, and men like Jason Taylor who never stopped feeling like one of the luckiest guys in the world.