The Best Miami Dolphins Not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Defense)
When the Miami Dolphins joined the American Football League in 1966, their fans were surely not prepared for this expansion team to become a powerhouse in just five seasons.
Yet, that is exactly what happened.
George Wilson was the first head coach in Dolphins history. He had won four championships as a player and coached the Detroit Lions to their last NFL title to date.
Though his teams went 15-39 in his four years, Wilson's drafts with player personnel director Joe Thomas were crucial in building the Dolphins' dynasty.
Hall of Famers Bob Griese and Larry Csonka, along with Dolphins legends like Dick Anderson, Jim Kiick, Mercury Morris, Bill Stanfill, Bob Heinz, Doug Crusan, Lloyd Mumphord, Howard Twilley and Larry Seiple, were all selected during Wilson's tenure.
Miami also made trades to acquire Hall of Famer Larry Little and Nick Buoniconti during this time, while picking up key free agents like Manny Fernandez and Norm Evans.
But owner Joe Robbie decided to hire Don Shula as his head coach and general manager, even though the future Hall of Famer was still under contract with the Baltimore Colts as their head coach. The move was considered tampering, so Miami was forced to give the Colts a first-round draft pick in 1971 that turned out to be running back Don McCauley.
While the Colts won Super Bowl V in 1970, Miami had their own successes. They began a run of six straight seasons with 10 or more wins and played in their first playoff game that year.
The Dolphins' amazing run had just begun.
They went to the Super Bowl three straight years, starting in 1971, winning in their last two attempts. The 1972 squad went the entire season without a loss, becoming the first perfect team in modern football history. No other team has duplicated this feat since.
Shula directed Miami back to the Super Bowl in 1982 and 1984, but they lost both times. He stayed with the team until 1995, winning 274 of his NFL record 347 victories with the Dolphins. He had just two losing seasons in his 32 years as a head coach.
Since he left, the Dolphins have had seven head coaches and three playoff wins. There is a new ownership since Stephen Ross bought the team in 2008, and there are hopes the team can relive their Super Bowl days again soon.
Nine members of the Dolphins are currently enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Remember: This is a team of legends who are not, and maybe never will be, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Defensive Tackle: Bob Baumhower
Baumhower was drafted in the second round of the 1977 draft by the Dolphins. He was drafted to handle the nose-tackle position because Miami switched to the 3-4 defense that season.
He started in all 14 games he played that year. He quickly established himself an elite player in 1978, after scoring a touchdown off a fumble and intercepting the only pass of his career.
Baumhower made his first Pro Bowl the very next season. He would return to the Pro Bowl in 1981. The NFL did not recognize sacks as an official statistic until 1982, a season marred by a players strike.
Yet Miami led the league in defense behind their "Killer Bs" defense. With Baumhower manning the middle in his third Pro Bowl year, the Dolphins made it to Super Bowl XVII before losing.
His 1983 season may be considered his best. Baumhower was named First Team All-Pro for the only time in his career after getting eight sacks, an excellent number for a nose tackle.
He made the Pro Bowl that year and the next after scoring on another fumble recovery. Miami returned to the Super Bowl in 1984, but were soundly defeated by the San Francisco 49ers after a record-setting performance by the 49ers offense.
Most nose tackles are squatty players with wide bases. Baumhower was not of this mold, standing 6'5" and weighing just 261 lbs. He was a master technician with superior intelligence and athleticism.
Yet nose tackle is the hardest position to play in football. Though he was named to the 1984 Pro Bowl, he decided to have knee surgery instead.
Earlier that year, his streak of 125 straight starts ended when he hurt the knee, but he got right back out there, not missing another game, and damaged it further to try to help Miami win a title. He needed help walking off the field after the loss to San Francisco.
The knee got so bad that he couldn't walk for awhile. He sat out of the entire 1985 season, but tried to return in 1986. He played 12 games that year but decided to retire because the knee was giving him problems.
He is easily the greatest nose tackle in Dolphins history, but it was a position he was not keen on playing initially.
“But a lot of that was because the center and two guards I was practicing against were Jim Langer, Bob Kuechenberg and Larry Little, three All-Pros, maybe the best trio ever," Bauhower said. "They bounced my around like a pinball. But I learned a lot, and that made playing other teams easier.”
Baumhower is a member of the Dolphins Honor Roll. His five Pro Bowls is tied for second as the most appearances by a Dolphins defensive lineman, and it is far and away the most by an interior defensive lineman.
Defensive Tackle: Tim Bowens
Bowens was Miami's first-round draft pick in 1994. After getting a career-best 52 tackles and two forced fumbles, he was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The 1997 season was one of his best. Bowens had a career-high five sacks and scored a touchdown off a fumble recovery while tying his second-best career total of 48 tackles. He was named to the Pro Bowl the next season. He returned to the Pro Bowl in 2002.
What is interesting about his two Pro Bowl years is that they are the only seasons of his career, excluding his last, where Bowens failed to record a sack as well as being two years that were amongst his lowest tackle totals.
Bowens hurt his back in 2003, forcing him to miss three games that year. He had missed five total in his 10 years by then, showing his toughness and dependability. He played two games the next year, but retired because of his back issues.
The excellence of Bowens is especially amazing if you consider he was missing three toes on his left foot caused by a lawnmower accident as a teenager.
He was the only Dolphins defensive tackle in franchise history to go to a Pro Bowl until Randy Starks went in 2010. It is safe to say Tim Bowens is the one of the best defensive tackles in Dolphins history.
Brian Sochia, Manny Fernandez, Daryl Gardner, and Bob Heinz deserve mention.
Defensive End: Bill Stanfill
Stanfill was the Dolphins first-round draft pick in 1969. Miami put him at defensive end despite his playing defensive tackle so well in college that he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Miami was intrigued by his athleticism, which once had Stanfill play quarterback in one collegiate game.
The move worked out great right away. He was named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie after scoring twice on the only two interceptions of his career. He also had eight sacks, which is still a team record by a rookie.
Miami was building a special football team at this time, and Stanfill was a key component. Stanfill would lead the team in sacks the next two years as Miami began to make an impact on the NFL.
They reached Super Bowl VI in 1971, before losing as Stanfill made the Pro Bowl. The 1972 Dolphins team is the only team in modern NFL history to have a perfect season. Though their great defense was dubbed the "No-Name Defense," people knew about Stanfill.
He was named to the Pro Bowl and given his only First Team All-Pro honor. After Miami won Super Bowl VII in 1972, they repeated as champions the next season. Stanfill went to the Pro Bowl after setting a team record with 18.5 sacks.
He also set a team record with five sacks in one game. His 1974 season was his last as a Pro Bowler. He tied his record of five sacks in a game, finishing with 10 that year.
Stanfill was injured during a exhibition game in 1975 that was so bad that he spent much of the next two years as a reserve before retiring. Though the NFL did not recognize sacks in his era, Stanfill retired in 1976 with a franchise-leading 67.5. It is still the fourth-most in team history.
His five Pro Bowls is the second-most ever by a Dolphins defensive lineman. He is a member of the Dolphins Honor Roll as both an individual and member of the 1972 team. Stanfill is also a member of the Dolphins All-Time Team.
When talk of the greatest defensive end in Dolphins history is discussed, Bill Stanfill should always be the first name mentioned.
Defensive End: Jason Taylor
Taylor was drafted by Miami in the third round of the 1997 draft. He quickly earned a starting job, getting five sacks. The next year he scored a touchdown off a fumble recovery, a prevalent theme throughout Taylor's career.
He was given his first Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro honor in 2000 after getting 14.5 sacks and scoring off another fumble recovery. Taylor would score his third touchdown off a fumble recovery the next season.
The 2002 season was one of the best in Taylor's career. He led the NFL with 18.5 sacks and was given his second Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro honors. Though he had 13 sacks the next year, as well as recording a safety and scoring off yet another fumble recovery, he was somehow not given a Pro Bowl honor.
Taylor then went to the Pro Bowl four straight years starting in 2004. He recorded a safety and scored a touchdown off a fumble recovery in 2005, as well as having a career-best 73 tackles and 12 sacks.
The 2006 season is considered by some the best of his career. Taylor was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year after forcing an amazing nine fumbles. He also scored twice off interceptions, which led the league, and had 13.5 sacks.
After making his last Pro Bowl in 2007, when he scored off an interception, Taylor left Miami and was dealt to the Washington Redskins in a trade.
His stay in Washington was so ineffective that the two parted ways after just one season, partly because Taylor refused to participate in team conditioning activities. He returned to the Dolphins in 2009, but was moved to the linebacker position.
He had seven sacks and scored once again off a fumble recovery. Taylor then signed a contract with the New York Jets as a reserve linebacker and recorded a safety. New York released him and he is currently a free agent.
Taylor is all over the record books for both the NFL and Dolphins. His six touchdowns off fumble recoveries and three safeties are the most in NFL history. His 27 fumble recoveries are just two short of an NFL record by a defensive player, and his 246 yards off fumble recoveries is 23 yards short of another NFL record.
His 132.5 sacks is eighth best in NFL history, and the 124 he had with Miami is a team record. Taylor's six Pro Bowls and three First Team All-Pro honors are the most by a defensive lineman in team history. He scored nine non-offensive touchdowns in his career.
Not only is it the most in Dolphins history, but it is the most by a defensive lineman in the history of professional football. His 42 forced fumbles is easily a team record, as is the nine he had in the 2006 season. Since the NFL does not keep track of this stat, it is unknown where it stands historically.
Yet his impact in Miami goes beyond the gridiron. Taylor's mission to try to teach kids to read using a foundation he created garnered him the 2007 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his charitable works.
At just 250 lbs most of his career, Taylor was surprisingly stout against the run despite facing off against the opponent's best offensive tackles weekly. Most weighed at least 50 pounds more than Taylor, but his athleticism, quickness, strength and intelligence allowed for him to make play after play.
It is unknown if his career is over, but Taylor does seem bound for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day. He was always around the ball making huge plays. Whether it was scoring or getting the ball back for his team, the definition of "playmaker" certainly can be branded onto his extensive resume.
Jeff Cross, Doug Betters Marco Coleman, Ed Cooke, T.J. Turner, and Vern Den Herder deserve mention.
Outside Linebacker: Bob Brudzinski
Brudzinski was a first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams. He started half of his rookie year at left outside linebacker after an injury, eventually being named All-Rookie by several publications. He moved over to the right outside linebacker the next year and was named a starter on a team known for their excellent defensive unit at the time.
The Rams reached Super Bowl XIV in 1979 after an excellent season from Brudzinski. He piled up 127 tackles and five sacks while breaking up 14 passes. After the Rams lost, Brudzinski headed into 1980 wanting a pay raise.
After the owners declined his request, he walked away from the team nine games into the season. He vowed to never play with the Rams again, which forced them to trade Brudzinski to the Dolphins before the 1981 season.
Miami plugged him in as the starting left outside linebacker right away, and he would stay there the next seven years. Though his specialty was stopping the run, Brudzinski was also solid against the pass and an effective blitzer.
He became an integral part of the Dolphins famous "Killer Bs" defense, which also had Glenn and Lyle Blackwood, Doug Betters, Kim Bokamper, Bill Barnett, and Bob Baumhower, all helping Miami's defense rank first in yards allowed and second in points allowed in 1982.
Miami reached Super Bowl XVII in 1982, but lost. He led the team in sacks that year. The Dolphins went back to the Super Bowl in 1984, but lost again.
After scoring the only touchdown of his career, off a fumble recovery, in 1985, he continued to be a steadying force. In 1988, he was a key reserve. It was the first year of his career he was not a starter. He retired after the next year.
Brudzinski is a member of the Dolphins All-Time Team.
Middle Linebacker: Zach Thomas
Thomas was drafted in the fifth round of the 1996 draft by Miami and immediately earned a starting job. He had a career high three interceptions, one of which was taken for a touchdown, and a career-best 120 solo tackles. He was named AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The 1998 season was his first to be named First Team All-Pro after matching his career mark of three interceptions, returning two for scores. He then began a run of five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances in 1999, three of which he was also named First Team All-Pro.
He returned to the Pro Bowl in 2005 and 2006, as well as earning his final First Team All-Pro nod in 2006 after getting a career-high 165 tackles. Thomas was hurt the next year, appearing in just five games.
Miami then released him. Thomas signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 2008 and played one year for them. He tried to join the Kansas City Chiefs the next year, but was cut in training camp. He then retired.
Since the NFL began officially recording tackles in 2001, Thomas has the fourth-most in NFL history. He is one of three players credited with 100 or more tackles in each of his first 10 seasons.
His 17 interceptions are the most ever by a Dolphins' linebacker and his four touchdowns off interceptions is a team record. His five First Team All-Pro honors ties Hall of Famer Larry Little as the most in Dolphins history, and his seven Pro Bowls is the most by a Miami defender.
The list of legendary middle linebackers awaiting induction into the Pro Football if Fame is long, starting with Tommy Nobis, Randy Gradishar and Lee Roy Jordan. Thomas has a very good chance at one day joining fellow Dolphins' middle linebacker Nick Buoniconti in Canton because of his excellence as a player and leader.
Bryan Cox, A.J. Duhe and John Offerdahl deserve mention.
Outside Linebacker: Larry Gordon
Gordon was the Dolphins' first-round draft pick in 1976. He started right away at left outside linebacker as a rookie. Miami switched to a 3-4 base defense in 1977, deciding to move veteran Bob Matheson inside.
Gordon replaced him at right outside linebacker, where he would stay the rest of his career. Statistics like tackles and sacks were not recorded officially during his career, but Gordon was a force.
Whether it was intercepting passes or sacking the quarterback, his steady play was a key to the team's defense. The strike-shortened 1982 season would be his last.
Gordon was part of a defense that allowed just 14.2 points per game, which was second best in the NFL that year. Miami began an improbable run in the playoffs, winning three games and giving up just 26 points total.
After shutting out the New York Jets in the AFC Championship Game, Miami would lose 27-17 to the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVII. It was the last game of Gordon's career, because he passed away while jogging a few months later.
Though he was taken away in his prime, the seven seasons Larry Gordon spent with the Dolphins was special. He helped bring the team back to the Super Bowl after a nine-year drought and left a legacy those who knew him would not forget.
Kim Bokamper, Bob Matheson, Doug Swift, John Bramlett, Tom Erlandson, Larry Izzo, Joey Porter, Mike Kolen, and Derrick Rodgers deserve mention.
Strong Safety: Dick Anderson
Anderson was the Dolphins' third-round draft pick in 1968. He was named their starting strong safety right away and responded by leading the league with 230 interception return yards, with eight picks. One interception went 96 yards for a touchdown. It was a team record until 1992.
After getting named AFL Defensive Rookie of the Year that season, he followed that up with 106 yards off three swipes the next year, Anderson led the NFL with 191 interception return yards. He had eight interceptions, returning one for a league-leading 86 yards.
Despite all of that excellence, he did not go to the Pro Bowl until the 1972 season after leading the NFL with five fumble recoveries, returning one for a score. Teaming with Jake Scott as one of the greatest safety duos ever, the Miami "No Name" defense dominated the league in helping the team have a perfect season.
The Dolphins went to the Super Bowl three straight years between 1971 and 1973, winning the last two games. The 1973 season was probably the best in Anderson's career. He led the NFL with eight interceptions and two touchdowns off of those interceptions.
He was named to his second straight Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro honors. Anderson was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in a year he picked off four passes for 121 yards for two touchdowns in a key late-season game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He stayed with Miami until 1977, making the Pro Bowl for the final time in 1974. After missing five games due to injury in 1976, Anderson failed to record any statistics the next year as a reserve. He then retired.
Though he ranks second in Dolphins history with 34 career interceptions, one less than Jake Scott, Anderson was used several different ways by Miami. He played both safety slots, punted the ball nine times, caught a pass and returned both punts and kickoffs.
The 792 interception return yards in his career is a Dolphins record. His 230 interception yards in one season is still a team record, as is his eight interceptions as a rookie. Anderson is the only Dolphin with three seasons of at least eight interceptions.
His four interceptions in one game in 1973 is a team record, and the 121 yards he got that day stood as a team record until 1992. His three career touchdowns off interceptions is the second-most in team history and the most by a Miami defensive back. The two he had in one game and season is tied as a team record.
He is a member of the Dolphins Honor Roll as both an individual and member of the 1972 team. He is also a member of the NFL's 1970's All-Decade Team. There is no question that Anderson is the greatest strong safety in Dolphins history.
Glenn Blackwood, Jarvis Williams, and Tim Foley deserve mention.
Free Safety: Jake Scott
When the Dolphins grabbed Scott in the seventh round of the 1970 draft, Miami player personnel director Joe Thomas proclaimed the team had gotten first-round talent for seventh-round cash. Scott had been an All-American player who is now on the 50th Anniversary All-Time SEC Team.
Scott came in from one season with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. He left the University of Georgia as a junior because Vince Dooley had brokered a deal for his team to play in the Sugar Bowl, a lesser game at the time, despite the Bulldog players having voted to play in the Orange Bowl.
Dooley had long called Scott the greatest athlete he ever coached, which includes men like Herschel Walker, but their disagreement led Scott to decline induction into the College Football Hall of Fame because Dooley was involved. Scott joined the Dolphins despite making $10,000 less than he had made in the CFL.
He started right away at free safety and returned punts full time with the team. He picked off five balls for a career-long 112 yards while returning 27 punts. He took one ball 77 yards for a touchdown
The Dolphins' safety tandem of Scott and Dick Anderson was quickly becoming the best in the NFL. Both were supremely intelligent and athletic, capable of playing either safety slot at a Pro-Bowl level.
This versatility gave Miami an advantage few teams have ever enjoyed in NFL history. The 1971 season saw Scott lead the NFL in punt return yards, getting 318 on 33 returns.
He also intercepted seven balls, which led the team and helped Scott earn his first of five consecutive Pro Bowl nods. The Dolphins would get all the way to the Super Bowl that year before losing to the Dallas Cowboys.
He severely broke his left hand on the helmet of Kansas City Chiefs fullback Jim Otis in the 1971 AFC Championship Game, then he would break his right wrist early in Super Bowl VI.
This led to both hands in heavy casts and the famous Scott quip, "Now I find out who my real friends are when I go to the bathroom."
The Dolphins' 1972 season was one that all teams head into striving for, but only this team actually accomplished. They led the NFL in both offense and defense while going undefeated the entire year. Scott returned less punts that year because Charlie Leigh took most of the attempts.
Miami also had Scott playing strong safety often, and it led to five interceptions. He hurt his shoulder so bad, that heading into Super Bowl VII, prognosticators favored the Washington Redskins because the word was that Scott would be unable to play.
Not only was he able to play, but Scott became the first defensive back, and just second defensive player, to ever be named Super Bowl MVP.
In a defensive battle where ball possession reigned supreme, the Dolphins outlasted Washington 14-7 in the lowest scoring game in Super Bowl history. Scott intercepted a pass on the Redskins' first possession, then picked off a second in a crucial moment in the fourth quarter.
On a Billy Kilmer pass intended for Hall of Fame wide receiver Charley Taylor, Scott picked off the ball in the end zone and took it 55 yards.That would set up the famous "Garo's Gaffe," when Dolphins' kicker Garo Yepremian would throw an interception that resulted in the Redskins only points.
Miami would reach their third consecutive Super Bowl in 1973, a year that saw Scott named First Team All-Pro on a defense that gave up only 10.7 points per game all season. Scott handled the return duties in Super Bowl VIII and recovered two fumbles in the Dolphins 24-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
When Dolphin legends Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield bolted for the fledgling World Football League in 1974, Scott bluffed Miami by saying he also had an offer. The Dolphins quickly signed him to a five-year contract for $600,000, making him the first defensive back in NFL history to make at least $100,000 per season.
He rewarded Miami by intercepting a career-best eight passes, earning his second First Team All-Pro honors while playing most of the year at free safety. He also returned 31 punts for 346 yards. He was named NFL Defensive Back of the Year by Football Digest.
Scott and Dolphins head coach Don Shula were so close that Shula's son wore Scott's jersey number when playing football because Scott was his hero.
When the Dolphins brilliant defensive coordinator, Bill Arnsparger, left Miami after the 1973 season to become head coach of the New York Giants, several Dolphins defenders, including Scott, were unhappy that Vince Costello was chosen as the replacement.
Costello was replaced by Don Doll after one year. Playing under Doll, he enjoyed his final Pro Bowl seasons in 1975 after six interceptions. Rookie wide receiver Freddie Soloman handled the punt return duties instead of Scott that season.
One practice in 1974 had Scott telling Costello he didn't know what he was talking about. When Shula interjected, the pair had words. This carried over into 1976, when Shula wanted Scott to play a preseason game even though the safety said his shoulder was hurting too much.
When Scott refused to shoot pain-killing medicine into his shoulder, the coach and safety argued so much that Scott was quickly traded to the Washington Redskins for safety Bryan Salter. Salter lasted six games with Miami before calling it a career after one more game as a Baltimore Colt that season.
Scott lasted three years with the Redskins, starting in every game that he played and missing only two games. Though Washington had him return three punts in 1976, those duties were primarily given to Pro Bowler Eddie Brown.
In his three years with Washington, Scott picked off 14 passes. He had a career-best five fumble recoveries in his first year, then picked off seven and retired at the end of the 1978 season.
He is the Dolphins all-time leader in interceptions, punt returns, and punt return yards. Scott is a member of the Dolphins Honor Roll as both an individual and member of the 1972 team.
He is definitely the greatest free safety in team history. He might not yet be inducted into Canton, but his 49 interceptions, punt return prowess and overall excellence say he surely belongs.
Brock Marion, Lyle Blackwood, Willie West, and Louis Oliver deserve mention.
Cornerback: Sam Madison
Madison was the Dolphins' second-round draft pick in 1997. He was mostly used as an extra defensive back as a rookie, but would earn a starting job from his second season on.
He intercepted eight balls in 1998, then led the league with seven the next season. He was named to the Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro after scoring a touchdown off a pick and recording a safety that year.
He made the Pro Bowl, as well as again being named First Team All-Pro, in 2000, after swiping five balls and taking one for a score. He and fellow Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain represented Miami in the Pro Bowl that year and again in 2002.
Madison and Surtain were perhaps the best cornerback duo in the NFL and Dolphins' history over this time. Teams rarely tested Madison, who was know for his toughness and willing run support.
He became a free agent after the 2005 season, so he signed a contract with the New York Giants. He led the Giants with four interceptions in 2007, helping them reach Super Bowl VLII.
New York defeated a New England Patriots team trying to become the first perfect team since the 1972 Dolphins. He broke his ankle seven games into the 2008 season, causing him to retire at the end of the year.
His 31 interceptions with Miami is the third-most in team history and the most ever by a Dolphins cornerback. His four Pro Bowls are the most ever by a Dolphins cornerback, as are his two First Team All-Pro nods.
Some longtime Miami fans will tell you that Sam Madison is the best cornerback in team history. He one day should find himself in the Dolphins Ring of Honor, hopefully joined by Surtain.
Cornerback: Patrick Surtain
Surtain was the Dolphins' second-round draft pick in 1998. He was used as a nickelback as a rookie and swiped a few balls.
Taking over a starting job towards the end of the 1999 season, Surtain picked off two passes and had a career-best two sacks. Now firmly entrenched as a starter, Surtain became a top-flight AFC cornerback.
After scoring a touchdown off a pick in 2001, he began a run of three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances in 2002 after scoring once again. The 2002 season saw him named First Team All-Pro as well.
He and Sam Madison were perhaps the best cornerback duo in the NFL from 1999 to 2003, where at least one of them represented Miami in the Pro Bowl each season over that time. The pair would go to the Pro Bowl together twice.
After a career-high seven interceptions in 2003, Surtain became a Pro Bowler for the final time in his career the next year. He was due a salary raise, but Miami chose to deal the 29-year-old to the Kansas City Chiefs for a second-round draft pick.
Kansas City paired him with Ty Law starting in 2006, and the Chiefs had one of the NFL's best pass defenses in 2007. He got hurt in 2008, missing half of the season. The Chiefs then released him, so Surtain retired.
In his seven seasons with the Dolphins, Surtain intercepted 29 passes. It is the second-most ever by a Dolphins cornerback and tied Glenn Blackwood with the fourth-most in team history by any player. His three Pro Bowls are the second-most ever by a Dolphins cornerback.
Miami has had several great cornerbacks wear their jersey over the years, and Patrick Surtain was one of their very best.
William Judson, J.B. Brown, Troy Vincent, Paul Lankford, Dick Westmoreland, Curtis Johnson, Lloyd Mumphord, Don McNeal, Tim Foley, Gerald Small, and Terrell Buckley deserve mention.
Punter: Reggie Roby
Roby was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the sixth round of the 1983 draft, and was the 167th player chosen overall. He produced immediately, averaging 43.1 yards on 74 punts.
He also had the first of just five-career punts blocked. Roby went to his first Pro Bowl the next year, when he averaged 44.7 yards on 51 punts. He would be named an All-Pro that season.
Known for his strong leg and incredible hang time, Roby led the NFL in 1986 and 1987 with the longest punts of the year of 73 and 77 yards. He led the NFL with a net average of 38.7 yards per punt in 1986.
Roby returned to the Pro Bowl in 1989 after 42.4 yards on 58 attempts. He then led the NFL with a 45.7 yards average in 1991, on 54 attempts. He is the only Dolphins punter ever to go to a Pro Bowl.
He joined the Washington Redskins in 1993, and went to his final Pro Bowl the next year. He averaged 44.4 yards on a career high 82 punts. It was also the final time he would be named an All-Pro.
Roby joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 1995, and averaged 42.8 yards on 77 attempts. He also attempted his only career pass that year, which went for 48 yards. The 1996 season saw Roby in a Houston Oilers uniform, and he had a career best 38 yards net that year.
He stayed with the team as they moved to Tennessee the next year, and then joined the San Francisco 49ers for 14 games in 1998, and averaged 41.9 yards on 60 punts. He retired from the game with a career average of 43.3 yards per punt on 992 attempts.
Roby was one of a kind. He was known for his quick two step delivery, which many have tried to emulate since. He also wore a watch many games so he could time his punts in the air.
The NFL only started recording net punting average in 1991, as well as virtually every other type of punting statistic. Roby's career net average is probably better than the recorded one of just over 36 yards.
He was a great directional punter and put an incredible amount of air under his punts. Twice he had opponents fair catch his punts 23 times over the eight years that the stat was kept. He still holds several NFL and team records.
His 77-yard punt is the longest in Miami Dolphins history, as is his 58.5 yards per punt single-game average. His 10 punts in the 1985 Pro Bowl is a record, and he ranks second in Dolphins history in punt attempts and yardage.
Reggie Roby is a member of the NFL 1980's All-Decade Team, and should never be forgotten.
Larry Seiple and Matt Turk deserve mention.
Punt Returner: Tommy Vigorito
Vigorito was a fifth-round draft pick of the Dolphins in 1981. He was the Dolphins' primary punt returner, but he also returned the only four kickoffs of his career as well.
He had a career-high 36 punt returns for 379 yards while scoring on a team record 87-yard return. He returned 20 punts in the strike-shortened 1982 season and scored again.
He got hurt in the first game of 1983, after returning one punt for 62 yards, forcing him to miss the rest of the year and the entire 1984 season. He came back to return 22 punts in 1985, then retired.
Miami liked to throw the ball to Vigorito on third down in his first two seasons, but they ran him occasionally as well. He ran the ball 54 times and caught 57 passes his first two years, then caught just two balls the rest of his career.
His two touchdowns on punt returns is a Dolphins record and he still ranks fourth in team history in punt return yards. Vigorito was a passionate overachiever who finished his brief career as one of the best punt return specialists in Dolphins history.
Jake Scott, Wes Welker, Scott Schwedes, Freddie Solomon and O.J. McDuffie deserve mention.
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