Greg Cote

Fins at 50: Miami Dolphins’ 50 greatest figures

Jason Taylor is sixth all time among NFL sacks leaders and the league’s 2006 Defensive Player of the Year.
Jason Taylor is sixth all time among NFL sacks leaders and the league’s 2006 Defensive Player of the Year. Miami Herald file

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We didn't forget: Those considered for the Top 50 who just missed the cut included running Ronnie Brown (2005-10), receiver Chris Chambers (2001-07), special teams ace Jim "Crash" Jensen (1981-92), kicker Pete Stoyanovich (1989-95) and coach Jimmy Johnson (1996-1999).

50. Joe Auer, running back (1966-1967): A sentimental nod. Auer rushed for only 544 yards in his two seasons but was the kid from Coral Gables High who ran opening kick 95 yards for TD in Dolphins’ first-ever game. Long before the Perfect Season, Auer got the franchise off to the Perfect Start.

49. Rick Weaver, broadcaster (1971-1993): The longtime “Voice of the Dolphins,” Weaver was the radio announcer credited with introducing the white hanky waving that became integral with the ambiance at the old Orange Bowl.

48. Jim Mandich, tight end (1970-1977): Only seven receivers in club history caught more TD passes than Mandich’s 23, but he became as known later as the popular longtime radio analyst on Dolphins broadcasts. “Awwriight, Miami!”

47. A.J. Duhe, linebacker (1977-1984): Duhe had four sacks in the 1982 postseason along with three interceptions (one returned for a TD) in the AFC Championship Game to lead Miami into its first Super Bowl since the Glory Years.

46. Patrick Surtain, cornerback (1998-2004): Surtain had 29 interceptions and three Pro Bowls and formed, with Sam Madison, probably the two best CBs in club history both individually and in tandem.

45. Monte Clark, assistant coach (1970-75, 1995) – Those great Larry Little/Jim Langer/Bob Kuechenberg-led offensive lines that paved the path to consecutive Super Bowl wins — those were Clark’s guys.

44. Reggie Roby, punter (1983-1992): Brandon Fields might have broken many of his records, but Roby, with his distinctive form and sky-piercing trajectory, still is the punter who comes first to mind in franchise annals.

43. O.J. McDuffie, receiver (1993-2001): McDuffie is fourth in career catches (415), fifth in yards (5,074), sixth in TD receptions (29) and still holds the single-season mark with 90 catches in 1998.

42. Norm Evans, tackle (1966-1975): Too little remembered, perhaps, but Evans earned a spot on club’s Silver Anniversary team as one of the key players to bridge the expansion and championship eras.

41. Ryan Tannehill., quarterback (2012-current): Tannehill already is third in career passing yards after Dan Marino and Bob Griese, and is the only Fins QB besides Marino to surpass 4,000 yards in a season.

40. Jim Kiick, running back (1968-1974): With Larry Csonka and Morris, Kiick formed the indispensable third prong to the ground attack that led the way to back-to-back Super Bowl championships.

39. Ed Newman, guard (1973-1984): Newman tutored behind the great Larry Little and Bob Kuechenberg and learned well, becoming the next great Dolphins guard and retiring sixth in career games played with 167.

38. Tony Nathan, running back (1979-1987): The best all-round, two-way back in club history, Nathan is the only Dolphin to top 3,500 in career rushing yards and receiving yards.

37. Wayne Huizenga, owner (1994-2008): For better or worse, an active, influential owner who had a hand in replacing Don Shula with Jimmy Johnson, hiring Nick Saban, bringing in Bill Parcells and more.

36. Earl Morrall, quarterback (1972-1976): Earl Morrall was Bob Griese’s veteran, crewcut backup but was called upon to start nine games during the 17-0 run of 1972. He was the team MVP for the Perfect Season. Enough said.

35. Sam Madison, cornerback (1997-2005): Third in club annals with 31 interceptions returned 487 yards. Madison made four Pro Bowls, and, opposite Patrick Surtain, gave Miami great cornerback play for years.

34. Garo Yepremian, kicker (1970-1978): Lovable Garo was best known for a gaffe, his Super Bowl “pass,” but made NFL’s 1970s All-Decade team and had some of biggest field goals in club history. Still second all-time in franchise scoring.

33. John Offerdahl, linebacker (1986-1993): Went onto Dolphins Honor Roll in 2013. Came after Nick Buoniconti and before Zach Thomas on the timeline of team’s great inside linebackers and tackle machines.

32. Edwin Pope, journalist (1966-2010): The legendary Miami Herald columnist chronicled Dolphins from their inception until his retirement, with stadium pressbox named in his honor. And it was Pope who suggested to Joe Robbie that he hire Don Shula.

31. Doug Betters, defensive end (1978-1987): Still third in club annals with 65.5 career sacks, Betters had 16 sacks in 1983 and was selected as the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year.

30. Bill Stanfill, defensive end (1969-76): Second in career sacks for Miami with 67.5, including 18.5 in 1973. But was edged out by Vern Den Herder and Doug Betters for Silver Anniversary team honors.

29. Vern Den Herder, defensive end (1971-1981): Formed half of the Glory Years sack tandem with Bill Stanfill. Den Herder had 64 career sacks and made the franchise’s Silver Anniversary team.

28. Bob Baumhower, defensive tackle (1977-1986): Baumhower was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and the run-stopping lynchpin of the franchise’s famed “Killer B’s” defenses.

27. Cameron Wake, defensive end (2009-current): Top-ranked active Dolphin on list, Wake has 63 sacks in six seasons with four Pro Bowl nods. Needs only five sacks to be second all time in the category, behind only Jason Taylor.

26. Mercury Morris, running back (1969-1975): The exciting, dynamic “Merc” averaged 5.1 yards per carry as the halcyon-days counterpart that made Miami’s vaunted ground game work — the outside threat to Csonka’s bull runs up the middle.

25. Ricky Williams, running back (2002-2003, 2005, 2007-2010): Enigmatic, frustrating, controversial, fascinating. Williams was all that. He also is club’s No. 2 all-time rusher after Larry Csonka, and no one had more yards in season (1,853) or game (228).

24. Richmond Webb, tackle (1990-2000): Only four Dolphins started more games than Webb’s 162, which included 118 in a row from 1991 to 1998. And only Dan Marino made the Pro Bowl more times for Miami than Webb’s seven.

23. Tim Bowens, defensive tackle (1994-2004): Run-stopping force started more games at position than anyone in club history. Current Fins hope Ndamukong Suh joins Manny Fernandez, Bob Baumhower and Bowens on club’s DT Mount Rushmore.

22. Jim Langer, center (1970-1979): Hall of Famer was at the center, literally and figuratively, of Bob Griese’s best seasons, the league’s most feared running game and Miami’s back-to-back championships.

21. Nat Moore, receiver (1974-1986): Overshadowed by Paul Warfield before him and by the “Marks Bothers” after, Moore had only one Pro Bowl season but is third in club annals with 510 catches for 7,547 yards, and second with 74 TDs.

20. Jake Scott, safety (1970-1975): Had a club-record 35 interceptions in only six seasons, and was MVP of the Super Bowl that ended the 1972 season at 17-0. Had biggest impact of any defensive player whose Miami career was so brief.

19. Manny Fernandez, defensive tackle (1968-1975): Miami’s first great run-stopping tackle, Fernandez had 17 tackles in the Super Bowl that completed the Perfect Season. Jake Scott won, but most thought Fernandez should have been game’s MVP.

18. Paul Warfield, receiver (1970-1974): Warfield had greatest offensive impact of anyone whose Miami career was so brief. He averaged 21.5 yards per catch as the championship-era receiver whose deep threat keyed ground game’s success.

17. Bill Arnsparger, defensive coach (1970-1973, 1976-1983): The franchise’s most important assistant coach, Arnsparger was architect of the champion “No-Name” defense and later the famed “Killer B’s” defense.

16. Orange Bowl, stadium (1966-1986): Long before it became decrepit and eventually demolished, the Dolphins’ home their first 21 seasons featured an intimate and raucous atmosphere that created one of league’s greatest home-field advantages.

15. Mark Duper, receiver (1982-1992) – The other “Marks Brother,” Duper is franchise leader with 8,869 receiving yards. He averaged a dynamic 17.4 per catch and scored 59 TDs on 511 receptions.

14. Dick Anderson, safety (1968-1977): Anderson had 34 interceptions for a club-record 792 return yards and was NFL’s 1973 Defensive Player of Year. Had franchise-record 51 takeaways. His four picks in one game is club record still unequaled.

13. Bob Kuechenberg, guard (1970-1984): Don Only Marino served the Dolphins longer than Kuechenberg’s 15 seasons, and only Marino and Jason Taylor played more games for Miami than “Kooch’s” 196 career games.

12. Mark Clayton, receiver (1983-1992): An eighth-round draft gem, Clayton was brash and backed it up, with franchise-best 550 catches and 82 touchdowns. His 8,643 receiving yards were close second to his fellow “Marks Brother” Duper.

11. Nick Buoniconti, linebacker (1969-76): Acquiring Buoniconti from the Boston Patriots helped give the Fins’ expansion-era defense veteran leadership and transform it into a unit that won two championships.

10. Joe Thomas, executive (1966-1971): A name on our list many might not know, Thomas was the expansion-era general manager. The bounty of talent he signed that Don Shula inherited included Larry Csonka, Larry Little, Bob Griese, Nick Buoniconti and Dick Anderson.

9. Zach Thomas, linebacker (1996-2007): A fifth-round draft pick supposedly too short and too slow, Thomas became seven-time Pro Bowler, had most tackles in club history and was a blue-collar favorite of Dolfans.

8. Dwight Stephenson, center (1980-87): Stephenson bridged the era from the end of Griese’s career to the greatest days of Marino and made the Hall of Fame despite a knee injury cutting short a stellar career.

7. Bob Griese, quarterback (1967-1980): Griese was underregarded — he threw only 18 total passes in the two Super Bowl wins — but the bespectacled Hall of Famer held every Dolphins passing mark, pre-Marino.

6. Jason Taylor, defensive end (1997-2007, 2009, 2011): Sixth all time among NFL sacks leaders and the league’s 2006 Defensive Player of the Year, “J.T.” stands as the greatest defensive player in club history.

5. Larry Little, guard (1969-1980): Miami’s acquisition of Little from San Diego on July 2, 1969 (in exchange for cornerback Mack Lamb) might have been the single greatest trade in franchise history.

4. Larry Csonka, fullback (1968-1974, 1979): “Zonk” epitomized the hard-nosed, ground-oriented Dolphins teams that won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1972-1973. Still club’s all-time rushing leader with 6,737 yards.

3. Joe Robbie, owner (1966-1989): The father of the franchise, Robbie was the Minneapolis lawyer who founded the Dolphins and later saw the team’s new stadium built of his own ingenuity, with no public funding.

2. Dan Marino, quarterback (1983-1999): Passed for 61,361 yards and 420 touchdowns, retiring with those and other all-time NFL records. The most accomplished, iconic and beloved of all players in club history.

1. Don Shula, head coach (1970-95): The winningest coach in NFL history, including two Super Bowl championships, the sport’s only Perfect Season and a mere two losing records in 26 Miami seasons. Any questions?

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