This is the latest post in Kurt’s continuing series to identify the NFL’s Ultimate Franchise Player of All-Time. For an explanation of his methodology for choosing each franchise’s ultimate franchise player, and then how you and he will choose the NFL’s Ultimate Franchise Player from that list, click here.
To see all the category page for this series, of which there will be one for every franchise, click here.
In the past decade or so, the Miami Dolphins have fallen mightily from their long-time perch as amongst the NFL’s elite and one of its flagship franchises.
In the period from 1970 through 2003, the Dolphins only had two losing seasons. From 1970 through 2001 the franchise made the NFL playoffs 21 times.
And then there was the original run from 1970 through 1974 when the team went 57-12-1, along with three Super Bowl appearances and two Lombardi trophies, and one (still unprecedented) undefeated season.
In recent editions of Ultimate Franchise Player I have used some different formats, ranging from bracket-style seedings (Chiefs/Packers), to chronological order (Colts) to simple top 10 countdowns (Texans/Jaguars).
I thought I would mix it up with the Phins and just do an all-Mimai team before revealing my UFP. Look for a few Killer B’s, a few No-Name Defenders, and one hell of an offensive line…
Bill Stanfill (DE 1969-76)
An Outland Trophy winner at the University of Georgia, Stanfill was one of the teams earliest stars, whose career began when the team was still in it’s AFL expansion infancy. Stanfill was unofficially amongst the team leaders in sacks during the team’s glory days, and earned Pro Bowl recognition five times.
A neck problem suffered in 1975 cut Stanfill’s career short, and the aftermath of that injury has caused him significant pain in the decades since his retirement.
Current Dolphin and CFL alum Cameron Wake (43 sacks in four years) also makes the squad as a backup.
Manny Fernandez (DT 1968-75)
The California native had a very successful career after arriving in Miami as an undrafted player in 1968. Fernandez was a mainstay on the defensive line and was a MVP candidate in Super Bowl VII recording 17 tackles.
Bob Baumhower (DT 1977-86)
The Killer B’s are tapped for the first time here. A second-round draft pick, Baumhower earned five-time Pro Bowl recognition as a nose tackle in the early-to-mid 1980’s. Tim Bowens (1994-2004) was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and serves as the backup interior-lineman on my all-time team.
Jason Taylor (DE 1997-2007, 2011)
We all of heard of the many of the injuries pro football players endure during a long career. That said the recent Dan Le Batard piece on Taylor was an eye-opener.
Excruciating pain-killing injections to his feet given in the bowels under the stadium, a leg injury whose pain was so intense that Taylor could not make it through the night and was hours away from having the leg amputated, needing epidurals to get through a back issue, and finally a staph infection that resulted in Taylor having a PICC line (catheter) inserted on a daily basis, and then played on Sunday.
Many people I’ve heard of with a PICC line are often in the ICU.
Between all the needles and surgeries Taylor had a legendary 15-year career in the NFL, recording 139.5 sacks, and also threw in a Dancing With The Stars title late in his career for good measure.
Smart money says Taylor will have a bust waiting in Canton by the end of the decade.
Doug Betters (OLB 1978-87)
A former Montana Grizzly makes the All-Time squad and one who was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, to boot. Betters only earned one Pro Bowl berth in his ten years in the league, but it was as AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1983, after 16 sacks and four fumble recoveries.
Betters has been wheelchair-bound since a skiing accident in 1998. It is believed that Betters also fractured his neck during his playing career, which possibly led to the more significant event on the slopes years later.
Nick Buoniconti (ILB 1969-76, HOF)
A Killer B who was ahead of his time and a Hall of Famer who spent the first half of his career with the Boston Patriots before arriving in Miami. He was named the Dolphins Most Valuable Player three times and legend has it he leads the inevitable champagne toast every season when the final NFL team loses a game.
Zach Thomas (ILB 1996-2007)
In his first year as Dolphins head coach, coach Jimmy Johnson brought in veteran Jack Del Rio to be one of his starting inside backers. That was until after the first pre-season, when the coach decided he liked a fifth-round pick out of Texas Tech so much, that he gave him the starting job on the spot, and subsequently cut Del Rio.
12 years later, Zach went down as one of the best players in the history of the franchise. Thomas started 182 games in the NFL as all and is ranked #151 all-time by Pro Football Reference.
A.J. Duhe (LB 1977-84)
I struggle to come up with a second outside backer on this team, but Duhe saw some time on the edge along with in the interior during his eight years with the team.
Duhe is best remembered for his performance in the AFC Championship Game in January 1983, intercepting three passes in the second half, the third being a pick-six that put the dagger in the Dolphins 14-0 win.
Patrick Surtain (CB 1998-2004)
Both of my corners on this team come from the recent past. Surtain earned Pro Bowl honors his final three years in Miami before moving on to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he played until 2008.
Sam Madison (CB 1997-2005)
Was a three-time All-Pro from 1999-2001 and intercepted 31 passes in his nine years in Miami.
As was the case with Patrick Surtain, Madison eventually became a salary cap casualty and wound up finishing his career with the New York Giants, where he earned a Super Bowl ring.
Dick Anderson (S 1968-77)
While the Dolphins All-Time safeties are of a later generation, the safeties are purely old school, and Dick’s balding head makes him one of the most iconic Dolphins ever.
In a December 1973 game Anderson intercepted four passes against the Pittsburgh Steelers, tying a league record in the Monday Night contest. That game ended with the ABC crew puzzled by thinking the Dolphins were going to go for it on fourth down deep in their own territory while clinging to a 30-24 lead.
It turned out that the play call was simply for quarterback Bob Griese to simply retreat to his own end zone for an intentional safety.
Jake Scott (S 1970-76)
The Dolphins all-time interception leader with 35 picks in his seven years with the team. Jake also makes our All-Time team as the punt return man.
Scott won Super Bowl VII MVP honors with two interceptions in a game many thought he would miss with a bum shoulder (Jimmy the Greek moved the line to Washington -3), and then recovered two fumbles in the Dolphins Super Bowl win the following season.
Richmond Webb (OT 1990-2000)
The meat of the All-Time team lies within the offensive line, starting with Webb who went 6’6”, 325 lbs, and played a large part in keeping Dan Marino upright most of his career. A perennial All-Pro selection in the early 1990s, a Hall of Fame call figures to be beckoning at some point in the near future.
Bob Kuechenberg (OG 1970-83)
14 years in the league along with one of the most menacing offensive lineman mugs (along with Dan Dierdorf) alone gets Kuechenberg on the team. Kuechenberg got a learning experience from Bob Lilly in Super Bowl VI, but would later earn six All-Pro selections.
Kuechenberg was a Hall of Fame finalist for several years during the 2000’s.