We move on to day four in our countdown of the top numbers in Miami Dolphins history. Today, we take a look at the seventh ranked number in team history.
Our seventh best number for the Dolphins' franchise is 77.
The 77 that we have seen go to several Pro Bowls in the past few years was first worn in the Dolphins' inaugural season by defensive tackle Rich Zecher. He spent a season-and-a-half with Miami, appearing in 21 games, before playing the last five games of his career with the Buffalo Bills.
In 1968, Doug Crusan picked up the jersey. For seven seasons, Crusan was a staple of the Miami offense at the left tackle position, appearing in 82 games with 60 starts. He started every game of the 1971 AFC Championship team, and 10 of the 14 games in the 1972 Perfect Season. The 1973 Super Bowl season saw Crusan appear in all 14 games.
Crusan was a key part of the Super Bowl championships in Miami. However, he does not match up to the next person to wear the 77. After Crusan retirement in 1974, the jersey lay dormant until 1977 when A.J. Duhe picked it up.
The 13th overall pick in the 1977 draft, Duhe came to Miami as a defensive end. He started all 14 games his rookie season. The next season, he started 10 games, appearing in three more, before moving to linebacker in 1979. After a year of adjusting to the change (13 appearances, two starts), Duhe returned to being a regular starter for Miami. He would start 63 games from 1980 to 1984 at inside linebacker, appearing in five additional contests.
During his career, Duhe would officially record 8.5 sacks (the stat not being recognized by the NFL until 1982. His estimated sack total over his full career was near 30. He also tallied three interceptions, six fumble recoveries, and one safety during his eight seasons, along with an estimated 500 tackles.
Duhe was selected for the Pro Bowl after the 1984 season, his final in the NFL.
No one wore the number again until 1987, when defensive end Stanley Scott wore it for three games, recording one sack.
The next two seasons saw offensive tackle Louis Cheek wear number 77. He would appear in 28 games during those two seasons, starting one time.
Defensive end Karl Wilson picked up the number for the 1990 season, appearing in 16 games, with two starts. He recorded four sacks and 26 tackles that season. Wilson would return to the Dolphins in 1993 for two games, but would wear number 72.
The next time someone donned 77 was in 1996, with guard Jeff Buckey. A seventh round pick that year, Buckey appeared in 15 games, with one start, as a rookie. He then started 12 games, appearing in four more, in 1997, before appearing in his final seven games as a Dolphins player in 1998. He played one more season with the San Francisco 49ers in 1999.
Buckey had a short, but successful career in the 77 jersey. The next player to pick it up, Damion McIntosh in 2004, had a similarly short, but even better, career in the number. as the starting left tackle for the Dolphins, McIntosh manned the blindside for the turnstile of quarterbacks in Miami over three seasons, appearing in 43 games, all starts.
McIntosh's performance as the Dolphins' left tackle cannot possibly compare to that of 2008's first overall draft selection. Jake Long started all 16 games for the Dolphins in his first three seasons before injuries forced him to miss time in his last two years with Miami. Ultimately, he started 74 games, and was a dominant, top two tackle in the league for most of those starts.
Injuries took their toll on Long over the last two seasons, but he was selected to four straight Pro Bowls from 2008 to 2011, and was a First Team All Pro selection in 2010. Long left Miami this offseason to sign with the St. Louis Rams.
The number did not stay empty for long, however, as the newly signed Tyson Clabo will wear it at right tackle this season.