Miami Dolphins icon Jim Mandich defends Chad Henne during final days

Last night at Sun Life Stadium, the Miami Dolphins hosted an outstanding public memorial for fan favorite Jim Mandich, former tight end and the voice of the Miami Dolphins, who passed away last week after a 14 month battle with bile duct caner. At the conclusion, Don Shula announced that Mandich would be the 22nd member of the Dolphins Honor Roll and that his plaque would be placed directly beneath the broadcast booth - a fitting final tribute to one of the most beloved Dolphins of all time.

That announcement capped an evening filled with stories and memories of Mandich. But I won't even attempt to recap that aspect of last night's event. There will be many places you can go to for great summaries of last night's event. Frankly, I don't feel I could do Mad Dog justice by even trying to describe the outpouring of admiration that took place at Sun Life yesterday.

So I'll leave that to the professionals.

But something that caught my attention during the ceremony was one of Mandich's final thoughts on the state of the current Miami Dolphins.

Mandich believes in Henne

I know Jim was the ultimate homer. He loved his Dolphins. He also loved his Michigan Wolverines. But if you listened to Mandich on the air - either his commentary during games or to his radio show - then you know he was never blinded by his love of the team. He wouldn't sugarcoat things. He told it like it was.

Like all of us, Jim was a fan. He just wanted to see his team succeed. And that's why I can't help but highlight what Nick Buoniconti passed along to the crowd on Wednesday night - sharing with us one of the topics he and Mandich discussed during his final meeting with Jim just days before he passed away.

"Chad Henne is going to be one hell of a quarterback," Mandich told Buoniconti.

Henne, who was very close with Mandich according to several reports, was sitting in the front row. I can't imagine how Chad must of felt knowing not only that he was on Jim's mind during his final days but that Mandich - despite all of the criticism - still believes in him.

Buoniconti added that Mandich, during this final visit, said that we need to ease up a bit on Chad.

"You guys got to give my boy Henne a break," Mandich told Buoniconti. "He’s still going to be the best quarterback they have and you tell the fans to be patient with him."

With all of the rumors circulating that the Dolphins are in the market for a quarterback, it must be reassuring for Henne to hear that an icon like Mandich is still in his corner. Of course, it could also add to the pressure on Chad to succeed.

Either way, the Dolphins are going to bring in a veteran quarterback to compete with Henne this offseason. Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano essentially confirmed this very fact last weekend. But it has got to be a nice little boost for Chad to know that he still has the support of the voice of Miami Dolphins football. Now he just has to go out there and play with the confidence an endorsement like this should provide.

Regardless of who is under center for the Dolphins this fall, one thing we do know for sure is that Dolphin fans who have passed before on before us now have themselves the very best color commentator to help describe the action taking place below them at Sun Life Stadium.

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