by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist
To help celebrate and recognize the Dolphinsí 40th season, the team has posted a ballot on their web site for fans to vote for the 40 Greatest Players in team history.
Only problem for me was choosing. After all, the Dolphins have been blessed with so many great and deserving players. I found that I quickly used up my 40 votes and still had far too many great players below the line!
After some deep thought and hard research, here is my final Top 40. My list is broken out position (players listed in alphabetical order) along with some brief comments and an Honorable Mention to those players who deserve to be noted, even if they didnít make my final cut.
Quarterbacks: Bob Griese, Dan Marino, Earl Morrall
Honorable Mention: Don Strock and David Woodley
Comments: Griese and Marino are no-brainers. Morrall saved the Perfect Season, giving him the nod over Strock and Woodley. Strock was the ultimate relief pitcher. Woodley was the teamís MVP in 1980.
Running Back: Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, Mercury Morris
Honorable Mention: Tony Nathan
Comments: Csonka, Morris, and Kiick hold the top three career rushing yard totals in team history. Morris and Zonk each had 1,000 yard seasons in 1972. Kiick was a dual purpose threat, a key weapon on a team that appeared in three straight Super Bowls. Together, they helped power one of the most formidable rushing attacks in NFL history. Nathan is the fourth leading rusher in team history (with an excellent 4.8 yards per carry average for his career) and is fifth in career receptions (383).
Wide Receiver: Mark Clayton, Mark Duper, Nat Moore, Paul Warfield
Honorable Mention: Jim Jensen, O.J. McDuffie
Comments: The Marks Brothers occupy the top two positions in the teamís
record book in receptions and yardage.
Offensive Line: Norm
Evans, Bob Kuechenberg, Jim Langer, Larry Little, Wayne Moore, Ed Newman, Dwight
Honorable Mention: Roy Foster
Comments: Langer and Little are Hall of Famers; Kuechenberg should be as well. Together, with Evans and Moore, they comprised one of the greatest offensive lines in NFL history. Evans was probably the best Right Tackle the team has ever had. Stephenson is another Hall of Famer, arguably the greatest center to ever play the game. Webb was a perennial Pro Bowler, the best Left Tackle in team history. Newman was a terrific run blocker, a four-time Pro Bowler who was twice named the teamís best offensive lineman. Foster was a two-time Pro Bowler at Left Guard; he, Newman, and Stephenson were the key interior line players that helped the Dolphins to two Super Bowl appearances in the early 80s.
Tight End: Bruce Hardy
Honorable Mention: Jim Mandich
Comments: Bruce Hardy was one of Marinoís favorite targets and leads the Dolphins with most receptions for a tight end. Hardy was named to the Silver Anniversary team. Mandich was a complete player, equally adept at run blocking (which he did most of the time) or receiving. His work as a run blocker is really underappreciated.
Defensive Line: Bob Baumhower, Doug Betters, Kim Bokamper, Tim Bowens, Vern Den Herder, Manny Fernandez, Bill Stanfill, Jason Taylor
Honorable Mention: Trace Armstrong, Jeff Cross
Comments: A four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All NFL selection, Stanfill was a quarterback killer. He holds the team record for sacks with 67.5 and had a monstrous 18.5 sack season in 1973 (team record). Betters is second in sacks with 65.5 and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1983, only the second Dolphin to ever earn that honor. He also was named to the Dolphins Silver Anniversary team at DE, alongside Den Herder. Den Herder is third in sacks with 64, ďthe finest defensive end I've ever had play for meĒ, according to Don Shula. Jason Taylor is right behind Stanfill, Betters, and Den Herder with 62.5 sacks; he may pass all of them this season, a truly amazing feat. Bokamper actually earned a Pro Bowl berth as a linebacker (1979) before being converted to a defensive end; it was a good move as he arguably did his best work on the line. Baumhower was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and a two-time All Pro; he anchored the middle of the famed Killer B defense. Fernandez was also a pretty good anchor for the No Name defense, earning the teamís Outstanding Defensive Lineman award for six consecutive seasons. His work in Super Bowl VII, where he logged 11 tackles despite facing constant double teams, stands as one of the great performances by a defensive lineman in Super Bowl history. Fernandez was named to the Silver Anniversary team. A two-time Pro Bowler, Bowens was one of the most dominant and unselfish players in team history, almost unmovable even when double teamed. Cross earned a Pro Bowl berth in 1990 and was named the teamís Outstanding Defensive Lineman four times. He is fifth on the sack list with 59.5. Armstrong stands sixth on the teamís sack list with 56.5 and was an outstanding team leader during his six years as a Dolphin.
Linebacker: Nick Buoniconti, A.J. Duhe, John Offerdahl, Zach Thomas
Honorable Mention: Bob Brudzinski, Bryan Cox, Larry Gordon, Steve Towle
Comments: This was the hardest group to choose from as all of the
above names are arguably deserving. Buoniconti is the only defensive Hall of
Famer the Dolphins have, a blatant travesty that will hopefully be corrected in
the future. He started what has become a fine tradition of outstanding play at
middle linebacker. Offerdahl was a five-time Pro Bowler in his short but
illustrious eight year career. Had he played longer, heíd have been a
Cornerbacks: Sam Madison, Patrick Surtain
Honorable Mention: Curtis Johnson, Don McNeal
Comments: Even though Surtain is no longer a Dolphin, he and Madison will be forever linked to each other as the greatest cornerback tandem in team history and among the best in NFL history. They hold the top two spots in team history with regards to interceptions by cornerbacks. However, it is their skill in man-to-man defense for which both have been well-regarded. Johnson was a key piece of the No Name defense and holds the team record for the most blocked kicks in team history. He was twice named the teamís Outstanding Defensive Back. McNeal, named to the Silver Anniversary team, possessed excellent cover skills though his career was hampered at times by injury.
Safeties: Dick Anderson, Tim Foley, Jake Scott
Honorable Mention: Glenn Blackwood, Louis Oliver
Comments: Scott and Anderson are the top two career Dolphin INT
leaders and were named to the Silver Anniversary team. Scott is one of the
finest safeties in NFL history, a four-time Pro Bowl selection in his six
Dolphin seasons, and a Super Bowl MVP. Anderson, a three-time Pro Bowler, was
the NFLís Defensive Player of the Year in 1973. He is remember for an
incredible four interception effort against the Steelers in 1973 (a team
Kickers/Punters: Olindo Mare, Reggie Roby, Larry Seiple, Garo Yepremian
Honorable Mention: Pete Stoyanovich
Comments: Mare is the teamís all-time scoring leader and finest kicker in team history. He is the teamís #1 all-time in accuracy and sixth in NFL history among kickers with at least 100 career field goals (an .819 success rate). Mare also deserves credit for revolutionizing the on-side kick. Since the introduction of the K-ball in 1999, he has the most touchbacks in the NFL with 86 and the most touchbacks in the NFL (119) since 1997. He also has kicked more field goals (194) than anyone else in team history. Roby was the teamís finest punter, renowned for his booming punts over the rim of the Orange Bowl. His special combination of distance and hangtime made him a formidable field position weapon. Seiple, a combination tight end and punter, holds the team record for the most punts for the most yards by a Dolphin (633 for 25,347 yards). He is often remembered for his 37-yard run off of a fake punt in the 1972 AFC Championship game against the Steelers, a play that may very well have decided that game (a 21-17 Dolphin win). Yepremian is second in all-time scoring and holds team records for scoring points in 121 consecutive games and for the most extra points kicked (335). He is also famous for kicking the game-winning field goal that ended the longest game in NFL history as well as for his bungled throw that Redskin Mike Bass returned for a TD in Super Bowl VII. Stoyanovich was the most prolific long distance kicker in team history, once nailing a 59 yarder (team record). He is also the second-most accurate kicker in team history (.793).
See the complete ballot at: Miamidolphins.com