Okay, folks, I am going to try something different here but I will need people's actual participation to make it work. I think that it is roundly accepted that Dan Marino is the best quarterback to ever play for the Miami Dolphins. But what about the rest of the roster? There is ample room for debate as to the rest of the roster sans perhaps center. I might be in a minority here but I still believe that not only was Dwight Stephenson the best center to play at any level of football but he might have been the best all-around player that the Dolphins have ever had on their roster but we will get to the center debate later in this post as this team has managed to have more than one stud center in their time.
The way this will work (hopefully) is that I will one night ask for your nominations for best ____________ to ever play the position for the Miami Dolphins and then take that list of players and make a poll the following night. I will then take the results and come up with the Phinsider brain trusts ultimate/all-time Miami Dolphins roster. I will begin an alphabetical order thus beginning tonight with the aforementioned position of Center. I will most likely sit here on my own couch and lose my mind if the winner is not Dwight Stephenson but this is your site and your nominations and ultimately your vote and I will roll with what the masses want.
So let's begin! As far as Center goes, as I said earlier, this team has managed to have several top-notch centers throughout the years. You can nominate any player you wish and I will add them to the poll so long as they actually played center for the Dolphins at some point. For those that do not know as much about Phins history as those of us that have been on this planet for many decades, I will give a brief overview of some of the top players to ever play the position for our favorite franchise but you are by no means limited to this list for your nominations.
Feel free to do your own research and by all means, feel free to make your argument for why you nominate who you nominated. We could all always learn something new and one of the best things about this game, and one of the things that I suspect keeps us diehard fans coming back season after season is that no matter who you are or your experience in and or around this game there is always more that you can learn about the game, be it about the game itself, it’s history or it’s players. There's a reason that you always see stories of some of the top minds in the game meeting up in the offseason to pick one another's brain. No coach, player, scout, or fan will ever know everything there is to know about this game, and that alone fascinates me and keeps me constantly researching the game that I love.
So on to our list-
Jeff Uhlenhake- Jeff played for the Dolphins for five seasons and started at center from 1989 to 1993. He would go on to play four more seasons in the NFL following his time in Miami, playing for the Washington Football Team and the New Orleans Saints before hanging it up. He was a starter for Miami in 15 of his 16 games during his rookie year. Unfortunately, despite being a solid player and starter when healthy he like many players had the injuries begin to rack up, thus limiting his playing time as his years with the team wore on. He started only 10 of 13 games during the 1991 season and 13 of 13 during the 1992 season. In 1995 he only managed to see the field five times but did start all five games that he played in that year.
Time Ruddy- Ruddy played for the Dolphins from 1994 until 2003 and is still widely considered one of the best centers to ever play in Miami. Ruddy also had a nice ten-year career, playing all ten of those seasons with the Dolphins. Unlike Uhlenhake, who struggled with his ability to stay on the field, Ruddy was considered a bit of an ironman. Ruddy started 140 games out of the 156 that he played in. Of the missed starts 16 occurred during his rookie season and he never missed more than one game over the next nine seasons, until missing two in his final season as a Dolphins and a player in the NFL.
Mike Pouncey- Pouncey is another very solid center that played for the Dolphins but like Jeff Uhlenhake, he suffered a ton of injuries during his time in Miami. He was only able to finish out two full seasons in his seven years with the Phins. He also played one year at guard for the Dolphins. In the end, Pouncey's injuries, high cap number, and a few questionable decisions (mostly just poorly thought out decisions for someone in the public eye) made off the field led to his release by the team. Pouncey went on to play three more seasons for the Chargers before deciding to hang it up, announcing his retirement after a ten-year NFL career this past February.
Dwight Stephenson- Dwight is an NFL Hall Of Famer despite what would be considered a short NFL career or at least a short time as an NFL starter for someone to make it to the Hall. The fact that he played only eight years due to injuries and only served as the full-time starter for five seasons and yet was an unquestionable addition to the Hall Of Fame only stands as a testament to his greatness and dominance on the field. Stephenson was selected high in the second round of the 1980 draft by the Miami Dolphins. He did not make his first start for the team until his second season in 1981, starting five games that year before starting nine games in 1982. Beginning in 1983, when Stephenson took over as the full-time starter, he also began his five-year consecutive run as a Pro-Bowler. He started every game for the first four of those seasons and started nine games in 1987. He retired following that 1987 season due to injuries. His former head coach at Alabama, the late, great Bear Bryant not only stated that Stephenson was the best center he ever coached, saying that he was a “man among children” but later went on to state that Stephenson was the best player that he had ever coached at any position. I don’t know that the praise gets might higher than that for any football player.
Jim Langer- While I will always stick by my pick of Stephenson as the best center to ever play for the Dolphins as he’s probably the best center to ever play in the NFL I would accept the argument for Langer being the best if just for his time with the team and the era that he played in and what the team was able to accomplish with him in the middle of that offensive line the entire time. Langer did not start his career with the Dolphins having been originally signed during the offseason as an undrafted free agent by the Cleveland Browns in 1970. Luckily for the Dolphins Langer was cut during the Browns training camp and signed with the Dolphins as a free agent that same year. Langer saw some limited action during his first two seasons with the Dolphins before taking over as the starting center for the team in 1972. Between the 1970 season and the 1979 season Langer started an impressive 128 games in a row including the two Miami Dolphins Super Bowl victories. Like Stephenson Langer made it to the Pro Bowl, only upping Dwight by one by going six consecutive years from 1973 to 1978. Also like Dwight, he was a shoo-in for the Hall Of Fame. After leaving the Dolphins following the 1979 season, a year that saw him go out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, Langer wanted to be closer to home and requested a trade to the Minnesota Vikings. Before the beginning of the 1980 season the Dolphins honored Langers request and traded him away to the Vikings. Langer played two more seasons in Minnesota before hanging it up. Langer is one of only five Miami Dolphins to go into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in their first year of eligibility. The others on that list include Jason Taylor, Paul Warfield, Dan Marino, and the late great Don Shula.
So now it’s your turn. Please give us your nominations below and I will return with the poll tomorrow night and we will being to build our ultimate, all-time, Miami Dolphins roster.