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  Top 40? Dolfans Throw An Incomplete Pass
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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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To help celebrate and recognize the Miami Dolphins’ 40th season, the team decided to conduct a poll so fans could select the 40 Greatest Players in team history.


In my opinion, to be considered “great”, a player must have exceptional accomplishments to his credit. He must also have a history of consistent achievement as a Dolphin over a reasonably long period of time. He must also be someone who represented the Miami Dolphins, and their fans, in a positive manner.



The results of this poll have now been posted. Quite frankly, I am disappointed.


Passionate and loyal Dolfans spend a good deal of their time criticizing players and coaches. In many cases, the criticism is well-deserved.


Well, now it’s payback time. To the fans who voted: You blew it.





That Ricky Williams is on this list is a travesty and injustice to all the great players who didn’t make the cut.


Yes, he holds the first and second spot in the record books for rushing yards in a season. Yes, he has amazing talent.


He was on the road to greatness. 2004 changed that.


His harmful actions last year and his short tenure (Ricky has yet to play three full seasons as a Dolphin) make him unworthy of such recognition at this time.


We should give Ricky credit for working really hard this year to mend fences and to set things right. By all accounts, he has been a model citizen.


But that does not…DOES NOT…earn him a free pass onto the Top 50 list, let alone the Top 40 list.


Every fan who voted for Ricky ought to run 100 gassers right now for sheer stupidity, with Don Shula standing over you to make sure you don’t cheat.



WIDE RIGHT: Keith Jackson, Tim Ruddy, Trace Armstrong, Larry Izzo.


No question, Keith Jackson was probably the most talented player at the tight end position in team history. Had the Dolphins not allowed him to leave he would likely be worthy of the honor. Bottom line here is that, to be considered “great”, you can’t be a short timer. Jackson only wore Dolphin colors for three seasons.


Tim Ruddy was a good player and a good Dolphin. A good guy, too. Give Ruddy credit for making the most of his natural ability. He even made a Pro Bowl cameo in the 2001 game, albeit as a replacement pick (Tom Nalen). Ruddy was a steady, smart, durable worker. That’s good, but not good enough to be a Top 40 guy.


Trace Armstrong stands seventh on the team’s sack list with 56.5 and was an outstanding team leader during his six years as a Dolphin. That’s also pretty good stuff but not nearly good enough to make the Top 40.


I love watching Larry Izzo play football. He has everything that Nick Saban looks for in a competitor. He was also colorful, the “Barney Rubble” to Zach “Fred Flintstone” Thomas. It was a dumb decision to allow Izzo to go to the Patriots via free agency, just as it was dumb when the Dolphins overlooked Reyna Thompson prior to his fantastic stint with the Giants. That being said, it is difficult to see how a part-time player with only four years of service as a Dolphin should be worthy of the Top 40 list, especially with so many great players ahead of him.


Those of you that voted for Jackson, Ruddy, Armstrong, and Izzo, bypassing a slew of more deserving names (keep reading), should immediately report to Saban’s office and get chewed out for not doing your job “the right way”.



JUST CLIPPED THE UPRIGHT: O.J. McDuffie, Keith Sims, Bryan Cox, Brock Marion, Pete Stoyanovich.


O.J. McDuffie is fourth in career receptions, fifth in career yardage, and holds the team record for the most receptions in a season (90). He was a great Dolphin and maybe even a great player. Unfortunately, McDuffie didn’t get a lot of recognition during his playing days. In something as difficult as a Top 40 poll, with so many worthy candidates to choose from, scoreboard has to count. In this regard, McDuffie comes up short.


Keith Sims went to three consecutive Pro Bowls and was a pretty solid guard on the left side of the line for eight seasons. However, when breaking ties amongst players vying for the final 8-10 slots, Sims simply gets caught in a numbers game. Keep reading and I’ll explain.


Don’t you just smile when you hear Bryan Cox’s name? A 5th round draft pick, Cox came to Miami and defied the odds just to make the team. The colorful Cox, never far away from controversy, earned three Pro Bowl berths and was named the team’s Outstanding Linebacker five consecutive times in his five Dolphin seasons. While it was hard not to admire his fighting spirit, his actions didn’t always reflect positively on the team. Still, if this was a Top 41 list, Cox would be #41 on mine.


Brock Marion was an excellent player, perhaps better as a Dolphin than he was as a Cowboy prior to his arrival. He made the Pro Bowl and had several 100 tackle seasons, which is remarkable for a free safety. A Top 50 guy, no question.


Pete 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). However, there is no way that three of the top 40 guys in team history can be kickers…not when Stoyo is third-best behind Olindo Mare and some guy named Garo Yepremian.


All of you who voted for McDuffie, Sims, Cox, Marion, and Stoyanovich are soft. Immediately enroll yourselves in the Jimmy Johnson seminar, “How to Cut Your Mother from the Team”.



Now let’s pull out the ‘ol film projector and discuss all of the misses the fans had in this exercise. Bring a box of tissues…you’ll need them.


Earl Morrall, QB (1972-76)

Sometimes a guy achieves something so important and so significant, it becomes the stuff of legend. Simply put, Morrall single-handedly saved the Perfect Season. It is an inescapable fact that, without Morrall, there is no 17-0 and maybe no Super Bowl title in 1972. That earns him an automatic Top 40 berth.


Norm Evans, T (1966-75)

Many Dolfans who voted never saw Evans play. He was only the best Right Tackle the team has ever had.


Wayne Moore, T (1970-78)

Moore was a fixture on the left side during the glory years, a critical cog in the run-oriented offense that powered the Dolphins to three consecutive Super Bowl appearances. Every man on that offensive line must be in the Top 40. After Richmond Webb, he was the best left tackle the team has ever had.


Ed Newman, G (1973-84)

Keith Sims was good; Ed Newman was better. Newman was a terrific run blocker, a four-time Pro Bowler who was twice named the team’s best offensive lineman.


Bruce Hardy, TE (1978-89)

Hardy was one of Dan Marino’s favorite targets and leads the Dolphins with most receptions for a tight end. Hardy was named to the Silver Anniversary team.


Doug Betters, DE (1978-87)

An important part of the famed “Killer B” defense, Betters is third in career sacks with 65.5 and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1983, only the second Dolphin to ever earn that honor (Dick Anderson was the other). He also was named to the Dolphins Silver Anniversary team.


Vern Den Herder, DE (1971-82)

Den Herder is fourth in sacks with 64, “the finest defensive end I've ever had play for me”, according to Shula. If he’s good enough for Shula, it means he makes the cut.


Bill Stanfill, DE (1969-76)

A four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-NFL selection, Stanfill was a quarterback killer. He set a team record for career sacks with 67.5 (since broken by Jason Taylor) and had a monstrous 18.5 sack effort in 1973 (team record now shared with Taylor). He twice set a team record with five sacks in one game.


Tim Foley, CB/S (1970-80)

Foley makes the Top 40 due to his versatility and outstanding play at three positions (CB, S, and special teams). He started as a major contributor at CB on the No Name Defense. He then earned a Pro Bowl berth in 1979 as a Safety after making the transition from CB. He also set a team record for blocked punts (3). Not too shabby.


Larry Seiple, P (1967-77)

Seiple, a combination tight end, running back, and punter, holds the team record for the most punts for the most yards by a Dolphin (633 for 25,347 yards). History is also on his side as he is often remembered for his gutsy 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).




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