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Dolphins Walk of Fame: What is its role for the franchise?

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

This week, the Miami Dolphins announced the next six members of the team’s Walk of Fame, an area outside Hard Rock Stadium that honors some of the great players who have worn aqua. The first four classes for induction happened from 2011 through 2014, but a break was created with he modernization of the stadium. This year, the team will be adding Jason Taylor, Dick Anderson, Mark Clayton, Mark Duper, Jon Giesler, and John Offerdahl.

Four of the six players felt like odd additions to the Walk of Fame. The previous classes featured mostly “unsung heroes” for the Dolphins, along with the team’s Hall of Fame players. The Dolphins seemed to be using the Walk of Fame for one level of recognition for players, the team’s Ring of Honor inside the stadium for the legends of the team, and then the retirement of numbers (12, 13, and 39) as the greatest honor. The Hall of Fame players reached through the Walk of Fame and onto the Ring of Honor, along with Nat Moore who had been the only non-Hall of Fame player to appear on both honors. Anderson, Clayton, Duper, and Offerdahl will join Moore with that distinction. Taylor’s addition adds him to the Hall of Fame group, while Giesler makes sense as an unsung hero of the team.

Was this a change to the policy? Did fans read too much into the “unsung hero” classes that had already been inducted?

I contacted the Dolphins for an answer. Moore, who now serves as the Dolphins’ Senior Vice President for Special Projects and Alumni Relations and Advisor to CEO Tom Garfinkel, was kind enough to share his thoughts on the new class and what the Walk of Fame is for the Dolphins:

The Joe Robbie Alumni Plaza Walk of Fame was designed to be all encompassing and recognize the best of our great alumni, including those in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Honor Roll as well as the many other players who were among the unsung heroes and community leaders that this organization has produced. After a four-year absence due to the stadium construction, we are proud to welcome six new members to the Walk of Fame this year, including a Hall of Famer in Jason Taylor among the five (Dick Anderson, Mark Clayton, Mark Duper, John Offerdahl and Taylor) who are part of the Honor Roll, as well as a former player who is the very definition of the title of unsung hero in Jon Giesler.

It sounds like, while the first few classes of the Walk of Fame did focus on unsung heroes, the Dolphins always intended on it being the first level of recognition for the team, with the Ring of Honor becoming the higher level of recognition, with the retirement of a jersey number the team’s highest honor. It makes sense, and the team will likely work to get most of (if not all) of the Ring of Honor players into the Walk of Fame over the next few years - likely working with the players and coaches to find a time in their respective schedules when they and/or their family can come back to the stadium and receive the honor in person.

Moore laid out what the intent of the Walk of Fame has always been, and now we are starting to see that play out. It will continue to be a special place, dominated by the statue of Joe Robbie, and now it will add six more outstanding members of the team.