Earnest Rhone was a 6'2" linebacker for the Henderson State Reddies in Arkansas. He signed on as a free agent with the Miami Dolphins preceding the 1975 NFL season.
As a rookie, Rhone played in all 14 games for Miami, starting two games each at right linebacker and at right tackle. He totalled 51 tackles along with two interceptions. This includes a 15 tackle performance in a week 12 31-21 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Miami finished out the season 10-4, but missed the playoffs.
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Rhone missed the 1976 season due to injury, and was limited to four games in 1977, collecting two tackles. The team again missed the playoffs with a 10-4 record.
In 1978, Rhone appeared in all 16 games for the Dolphins, starting two at linebacker. He finished the season with 40 tackles and two interceptions. His best performance was in a week five 24-10 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, when he finished with 13 tackles. Miami finished the season 11-5.
Rhone made 68 tackles in 1979, appearing in all 16 games for the Dolphins. He racked up nine tackles, knocked down one pass and picked off Jim Zorn in a week two 19-10 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
In 1980, Rhone started one of 14 games, collecting 47 tackles, two interceptions and one sack. Miami posted an 8-8 record, missing the playoffs.
1981 would see Rhone start all 16 games at left inside linebacker, making 148 tackles and three interceptions. He made 18 tackles against the New York Jets in a 28-28 tie in week five. Miami finished the season 11-4-1, losing the AFC Divisional Playoff to the San Diego Chargers, 41-38.
Miami would finish 7-2 in the strike shortened 1982 season, as Rhone started every game at right inside linebacker. He finished with 77 tackles, one sack and one interception. Miami eventually advanced to Super Bowl XVII, where they lost to the Washington Redskins 27-17.
In 1983, Rhone started 12 games at right inside linebacker, racking up a total of 82 tackles. He enjoyed a career day in a week 13 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, 38-14, by making 14 tackles, two sacks, one interception and a fumble recovery. Miami finished 12-4, losing to the Seattle Seahawks in the Divisional Playoff, 27-20.
Rhone started 10 of 15 games at right inside linebacker in 1984, finishing with 43 tackles. Miami again advanced to the Super Bowl, going a combined 16-2 in the regular season and the playoffs before losing to the San Francisco 49ers, 38-16. He retired the following season, having spent his entire career as a Miami Dolphin.
Miami has a long history of game changing linebackers. Who was the most dominant linebacker in Dolphins history?
Nick Buoniconti (661 votes)
Larry Gordon (14 votes)
AJ Duhe (269 votes)
Zach Thomas (2855 votes)
Mike Kolen (11 votes)
John Offerdahl (403 votes)
Doug Swift (22 votes)
Brian Cox (158 votes)
Bob Brudzinski (23 votes)
4416 total votes