DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins are celebrating their 50th season and one of special things they are doing is selecting the top 50 players in team history.
The list is created by four different groups who vote on the composition of the team. The groups are fans, Dolphins alumni, South Florida media and a select blue ribbon panel.
Each group represents 25% of the overall vote.
Every week over a ten week span, five players on the 50th anniversary team will be announced leading up to the Dolphins home game against the New York Giants on Monday, December 14th.
The entire top 50 team will be honored as part of a tribute to the 50 seasons of Miami Dolphins football.
In addition, the Dolphins will be wearing throwback uniforms that night for only the second time in franchise history.
So far there have been 15 players named to the team. Dick Anderson, Mark Clayton, Mark Duper, O.J. McDuffie and Jake Scott were the first five, followed by Nick Buoniconti, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Mandich and Dan Marino. Last week the Dolphins added Doug Betters, Bryan Cox, Bob Kuechenberg, Tony Nathan and Richmond Webb to the prestigious list.
On Tuesday the team announced the latest five players. They are Tim Bowens, Manny Fernandez, Larry Little, Mercury Morris and Bill Stanfill.
Bowens played 11 seasons for the Dolphins at defensive tackle, starting 155 games which is the third highest total among defensive players in Miami. He made 92 consecutive starts from 1994 to 1999, the fifth longest streak in team history. Bowens was named the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1994 and was a two-time Pro Bowler.
“It’s an honor to be named to a team that has so many outstanding players who built the great tradition of the Dolphins. That started with the undefeated guys, and I’m lucky to share one thing with them — we all were coached by one of the greatest coaches ever — Don Shula,” Bowens said.
Fernandez played eight seasons with the Dolphins, all at defensive tackle. He recorded 35 sacks for Miami, which ranks tenth among the team’s all-time sack leaders and second among defensive tackles. Fernandez is one of only three defensive tackles to lead the Dolphins in sacks, doing so with eight in 1971. Perhaps his signature game as a member of the Dolphins came in Super Bowl VII when he made 17 tackles while helping Miami to it’s perfect season. Fernandez was inducted into the Dolphins Honor Roll in 2014.
“I just can’t tell you what an honor this is. Fifty years of Dolphins history, and to be a part of the all-time 50 greatest Dolphin players, and to be elected to that by fans, peers and the media, is an honor that’s really hard to describe,” Fernandez said. “I’m really looking forward to going down for that great weekend when we’re going to have that big celebration. I’m looking forward to all of it. It’s quite an honor and I’m thrilled.”
Little played twelve seasons with the Dolphins at guard and was a key contributor to the powerful running game that led to two Super Bowl victories in 1972 and 1973. He started 152 of the 158 games he played with Miami, the third highest starting total by any lineman in team history. Little was named to four Pro Bowls, including three starts. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993 as well as the Dolphins Honor Roll the same year.
“It’s really an honor to be a part of the top 50 Miami Dolphins. There have been some great players in the history of the franchise over the last 50 years, and I’m just honored to be one of them,” Little said.
Morris played seven seasons with the Dolphins at running back, rushing for 3,877 yards which ranks fourth in team history. In 1972 Morris ran for 1,000 yards while teammate Larry Csonka rushed for 1,117, making them the first duo in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards each in the same season. He is the only Dolphins player to record three kickoff returns for a touchdown and ranks first in average kickoff return yardage. Morris was named to three Pro Bowls.
“The Dolphins were four years old when I joined the team and at that time they had a consistency — of losing. But when Don Shula came, we flipped that coin and became the best team in football. He preached the idea that in order to be successful, you had to play hard, practice hard and think about what the team means above everything else,” Morris said. “And that’s how we played — it was all based on the team, and not the individual. Once Shula brought that idea when he came to Miami, it never left us. An idea never leaves its source and that’s why he produced those champions and was successful for so long.”
“I’m happy people saw fit to choose me to be among the top fifty players recognized by the Dolphins. We had some great teams when I was there and I’m honored just to be part of this recognition that was 50 years in the making,” added Morris.
Stanfill played eight seasons with the Dolphins at defensive end, retiring as Miami’s all-time sack leader with 67.5 and still ranking second in team history. His 18.5 sacks in 1973 remain tied for the single-season team record, along with Jason Taylor’s 18.5 sacks in 2002. Stanfill made the AFL All-Star team in 1969 and was named to four Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the Dolphins Honor Roll in 2010.
“I think every starter on the three Super Bowl teams should be on this list because it was not all individual talent that got us that far. It was 11 guys on defense and 11 guys on offense that were all working together and that’s what put us in the Super Bowl three straight years. It all rolled into one from the coaches on down. Certainly Coach (Bill) Arnsparger was a genius and Coach (Don) Shula’s record speaks for itself. Along with the other defensive coaches, Mo Scarry and Tom Keane, they all did a great job putting us in the right place at the right time,” Stanfill said.
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