Throughout the late 1990s and the early 2000s, two players epitomized everything it was to be a member of the Miami Dolphins. These two players were the heart and soul of the defense, and were the heart and soul of the fan base. And, on Sunday, they will once again stand together and they are inducted into the team's Ring of Honor.
Zach Thomas spent 13 seasons playing linebacker in the NFL, 12 with the Miami Dolphins. During his career, he started 182 of the 184 games in which he appeared, recording 10.5 sacks, 17 interceptions, 16 forced fumbles, 8 fumbles recovered, 4 touchdowns (all interception returns), and 1,733 tackles. Thomas was named to seven Pro Bowls, as well as a five time First Team All Pro selection, and was selected as the AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1996.
Jason Taylor played defensive end and linebacker over fifteen NFL seasons, spending 13 seasons over three stints with the Dolphins. During his career, Taylor started 199 games over his career, appearing in an addition 34, recording 139.5 sacks, 8 interceptions, 46 forced fumbles, 29 fumble recoveries, 9 touchdowns (3 interceptions, 6 fumble returns - an NFL record), three safeties, and 777 tackles. Taylor was named to six Pro Bowls and was a four time First Team All Pro selection, as well as the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2006 and the Walter Payton Man of the Year winner in 2007.
Taylor is third on the Dolphins in most games player (188), behind Dan Marino (242) and Bob Kuchenberg (196), while Thomas is fifth (168). Taylor holds the Miami team record for most consecutive games played with 130 (also the team record for most consecutive starts) and is second on the team in most starts (184, behind Marino's 240). Thomas is fourth in starts on the team with 168. Thomas is second in team history with the most Pro Bowl selections, behind Marino's nine, while Taylor is second in Pro Bowl starts (Marino, 7).
Thomas holds the team record in career touchdown interceptions with four, while Taylor is second with three. Taylor also holds the Dolphins' season record for interception returns for a touchdown with two (tied with five others). Taylor holds the team career sacks record with 124 (ahead of Bill Stanfill's 67-1/2) and the team record in season sacks (18-1/2, tied with Stanfill).
The team records continue with Taylor's 27 fumble recoveries, 10 ahead of Dick Anderson and Bob Baumhower, as well as the game fumble recovery record with two (tied with 10 others). Taylor also holds the longest fumble return for a touchdown in team history with an 85 yard return against the Denver Broncos in 2005.
Thomas holds the team's second (195), third (184), fourth (180 - twice), eighth (168), ninth (167), tenth (166), eleventh (165), fourteenth (160), and sixteenth (149) season tackle totals. Thomas led the team in tackles 10 times.
Taylor is 63rd in team history in scoring, with 58 points. Thomas is 94th with 24 points.
Taylor is married to Thomas' sister Katina and has three children. Thomas is married to Maritza and they have two children.
Thomas was forced to leave the NFL during the 2009 preseason due to concussion related symptoms that would not cease from an injury the previous season with the Dallas Cowboys. He officially retired from the NFL on May 18, 2010 after signing a one day contract with the Dolphins.
Taylor retired at the end of last season, after returning to the Dolphins following one season with the New York Jets. Taylor left the game with the sixth most sacks in league history, just two sacks behind Michael Strahan for fifth all time. Since retiring, Taylor has worked with ESPN as an analyst.
Taylor and Thomas have been an integral part of the Dolphins, and there is no other way than for the two of them to go into the Dolphins' Ring of Honor together. They have always been together, they even share a birthday (Thomas being exactly one year older than Taylor). The Dolphins are doing the right thing by honoring two of the greatest players in franchise history together.