Larry Gordon was a 6'3" linebacker out of Arizona State University. Miami selected him with their first round pick of the 1976 NFL Entry Draft. He would wear the number 50 jersey for the duration of his NFL career.
As a rookie, Gordon started all 14 games for the Dolphins at left linebacker, totalling 106 tackles and defensing five passes. Miami finished the season at 6-8, their first losing season since the AFL/NFL merger. Gordon had a 14 tackle performance in a week 13 victory over the Buffalo Bills, 45-27.
In 1977, Gordon collected in the neighborhood of 90 tackles, starting every game at right outside linebacker. In a week six 31-13 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, he made five tackles along with two sacks and his first career interception, returning it for 27 yards. Miami returned to prominence with a 10-4 record, but just missed the postseason.
Continue reading after the jump.
1978 would see Gordon again appear in every game for the Dolphins, starting 15. He totalled approximately 100 tackles along with five sacks for the 11-5 Dolphins. In a week seven 28-21 win over the San Diego Chargers, he totalled six tackles, two passes defensed, and two sacks of quarterback Dan Fouts. In a week 15 23-6 victory over the Oakland Raiders, he made eight tackles, intercepted three Ken Stabler passes for 35 yards, and blocked an extra point. The Dolphins qualified for a wildcard berth in the playoffs.
Gordon would start every game for Miami in 1979, making around 95 tackles and four sacks for the Dolphins. The team finished the season 10-6, winning the AFC Title. In a 13-3 victory over the Raiders in week six, he made seven tackles along with two passes defensed and two sacks.
In 1980, Gordon continued to start most of Miami's games at right outside linebacker. He made 14 starts in 15 appearances, missing his only career game. Gordon made around 100 tackles and four sacks for the Dolphins, as the team finished the season at 8-8. He made 13 tackles in a week 15 victory over the Baltimore Colts, 24-14.
1981 would see Gordon start all 16 games for the Dolphins, as the team won the AFC East title with an 11-4-1 record. Gordon made around 75 tackles for the Dolphins, breaking up four passes.
In 1982, we were treated to a strike shortened, playoff expanded nine game season. Gordon made 43 tackles and three sacks. In a week five victory over the Minnesota Vikings, he made two sacks of quarterback Tommy Kramer, also picking off a pass. Miami won all three playoff games en route to Super Bowl XVII to face the Washington Redskins. Gordon collected one sack on the day as the Dolphins lost the game, 27-17. It would be Gordon's last game.
Tragically, Gordon collapsed while jogging in the desert outside in Arizona in July of 1983. He died about an hour later at a Phoenix hospital, and was originally attributed to heart disease. Later, his brother, drug counselor and former San Diego Chargers guard, Ira Gordon, later disclosed evidence of cocaine use. A toxicological examination would eventually rule that out, testing negative for cocaine. It was the second tragedy for the Dolphins in short order, as fellow linebacker Rusty Chambers died in 1981 in a car accident. In 1984, rookie running back David Overstreet also died in a car accident.