For Dolphins greats Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas, think of Sunday’s Honor Roll induction as a reward for what at times must have seemed like careers of unending misery.
My mental snapshot of the two defensive stalwarts, friends and brothers in law is taken from yet another losing postgame lockerroom, with Taylor seated over there, slumped, a white towel draped over his shaved head, and Thomas about 10 paces away, eye-black still on, half angry and half fighting tears.
Sunday, they’ll both be grinning like Joe Biden in a vice-presidential debate.
That’s the thing about retirement. The losses stop. But I did the math, and these two endured a lot of them. Imagine how many more if not for their own heroics?
Taylor’s career record as a Dolphin was 105-111 — including what few playoffs there were. Thomas’ was 100-99. The last eight years of their era were bereft of any playoffs. Since 2004 the record was 33-63 for Taylor, and 20-44 for Thomas.
Yet they excelled in the mediocrity or worse that surrounded them.
And Sunday they become the first Honor Roll inductees from what I would call the franchise’s current (post-Dan Marino) era, considering both arrived as the Marino years were ebbing.
Through no fault of their own fate gave neither man even a sniff of a Super Bowl.
Sunday they’ll have the consolation of franchise immortality, and appreciation.
Those smiles will have been earned, indeed.