Well, the polling for linebackers is over and the four starting linebacker that we are moving on with for our roster are as follows-
Zach Thomas- Zach, as no one will be surprised by, blew away the rest of the field in the voting with a resounding 63 percent of the vote or 147 of the 235 votes cast in the poll. Zach is a player that most of us can directly relate to because he was a more recent player that most of us got to see play, if not for his entire career, at least long enough to get the gist that this guy was beyond special. We all remember how dynamic that defense was with Zach and JT in their primes. The two brothers off the field and on the field worked like a machine. Zach would often times call out the play the offense was about to run and more often than not Zach was somehow directly in on the play or his play on the field adversely affected what the other offense was trying to accomplish leaving things wide open for JT to practice his magic. Zach quite simply outstudied, out practiced, and outworked every other player on the team for his entire career. He might not make it into even the top five players to ever play for the Dolphins but no one was a better coach on the field defensively than he was and his work ethic and take on the game and how to prepare for it each and every week is unparalleled and something that the players of today, if they wish to be the absolute best they can be at their respective position, should do everything in their power to copy Zach's way of going about his business. Now it's time for the Hall Of Fame voters to stop snubbing a guy that clearly deserves his enshrinement more than so many others that have already made it.
Nick Buoniconti- Nick was and always will be a top legend for the Miami Dolphins and it showed in the voting. Nick came in second place behind ZT with 48 votes, or 20 percent of the total vote total which is still impressive when Thomas took up so much of top of the voting. Playing ILB, Nick forged one of the better careers in the NFL in the 1970s. He was originally drafted and played for the Patriots before his two stints with the Miami Dolphins but everyone will always remember him as just a Dolphin and eventually, one of the more prominent ex Dolphins to leave a lasting and important legacy behind him for the Miami area and perhaps the rest of the world with the Miami Project To Cure Paralysis. Without his support, which came almost entirely from his experience with his son’s own spinal cord accident while playing college ball for Alabama that left him paralyzed from the neck down, the project may not have ever gotten off the ground. In its brief existence, the MPTCP, in conjunction with the University Of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, has done more to help the cause of curing paralysis than anyone previously and as such more people can still walk and live their lives normally today due to the work done by the project that would have otherwise forever been forced to live a life in a wheelchair. By trading for Nick in 1969 the Dolphins got themselves not only one of the best linebackers in the game but also an eventual two-time Super Bowl Champion on a team that was mostly successful due to the smothering defense that the Dolphins played in which Buoniconti was a primary leader. He also saw the Pro Bowl twice as a Dolphin and holds his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. The world lost Nick in 2019 to complications from neurological issues from playing in the NFL for so many years. Buoniconti is now gone but he will never be forgotten by the legions of Dolphins fans or the many people with spinal cord injuries whose lives his work after football served to make better than could have ever been imagined before.
John Offerdahl- Some might be upset that we picked only four linebackers (a debate I had with myself and a decision I made to keep from having to have multiple polls for a linebacker) especially when the top three are all inside guys. Oh well, I still have confidence that any coach could have made it work with our starting four. John made this list with 21 votes or 9 percent of the total voting. While many of us are old enough to remember Offerdahl playing very well it seems as if he is overlooked by the first two on our list by many, especially younger fans who saw Zach play and know about the Super Bowl years but not some of the time or the players in between those two periods of the Dolphins history. Offerdahl entered the 1986 draft season as a projected mid to late-round pick but his stock skyrocketed during the Senior Bowl that year when he put up an impressive performance against the then Heisman Trophy-winning running back Bo Jackson. In that game, he managed to, by himself, on two different goal-line stands, stop Jackson from getting into the endzone including a play in which Offerdahl had to perform a near acrobatic move mid-air to stop Jackson who was also mid-air, from entering the endzone. Miami picked John in the second round and he was their first pick that year as they had previously traded away their first-rounder. Offerdahl was named the starter after only 10 days in training camp. Despite playing for a sub-par 8 and 8 Dolphins team during his rookie season he was elected to the Pro-Bowl following the season, a feat that he would eventually accomplish four more times in his career. He also managed to snag a share of the Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers Association’s Defensive Rookie Of The Year Award, an award that he split that year with the then-San Diego Chargers’ Leslie O’Neal. In all John played eight years in the NFL, all with the Dolphins. Towards the end of his career, especially his final three seasons, nagging injuries caught up to him forcing him to retire at a fairly young age. Following football, Offerdahl began a successful bagel shop business, eventually growing it to ten locations in the South Florida area. His bagel business eventually was sold to and merged with Einstein Bagels. Offerdahl still runs a successful restaurant chain of his own with six locations throughout South Florida called Offerdahl’s Off The Grill.
A.J. Duhe- Duhe began his career with the Dolphins as a defensive end playing at that position before moving to inside linebacker in 1980 (yes I know, we wound up with four inside linebackers). He remained a linebacker for the final five years of his career, all five with the Dolphins. In his final season, he earned his one invite to the Pro Bowl. He was also previously elected the NFL Defensive Rookie Of The Year in 1977. In what is one of the most memorable and dominant games ever played by a single Dolphins player Duhe, in the 1982 AFC Championship game against the New York Jets, Duhe had three interceptions, including one that he returned 35 yards in the fourth quarter to secure Miami’s 14-0 win and thus their trip that years Super Bowl, Super Bowl XVII. It was one of those stand-on-your-head performances that will forever endure Duhe as an all-time great for many long-time Dolphins fans.
Now onto the next round of nominations but first to recap our roster at this point looks like this-
- Head Coach- Don Shula
- Quarterback- Dan Marino
- Center- Dwight Stephenson
- Cornerbacks- Sam Maddison and Patrick Surtain
- Linebackers- Zach Thomas, Nick Buoniconti, John Offerdahl and, A.J. Duhe
As I have previously done, in order to get a list of what the Miami Dolphins fans on the whole believe is the best player at a position for the team all-time I have once again called on ranker.com. It’s a site that allows you to rank all sorts of things including positional players that have played for a particular team all time. This time I was a bit skeptical as the top vote-getter is not only a current Dolphin but one with only a few years under his belt. I hardly think that someone should have been elevated to the first spot after only three seasons in the league but hey, who am I to say so I will add him to the list, in case anyone is wondering why he is there. You can check out their top 40 all-time list of tight ends for the Miami Dolphins HERE. I will only list their top 10.
So onto our list of all-time top tight ends to play for the Miami Dolphins. As in the past, I take the top list of names (top 10 in this case) and then list them not by the online ranking or my ranking but instead sort them alphabetically by their last names for fairness’ sake. As always, if you think I left someone off the list please feel free to not only nominate them but to make your argument for why they belong. As I have previously stated, no matter how much we think we know as fans, and I have been one for as long as I can remember in my 51 years on this earth, there is something each of us can always learn not only about the game but also our very own team. Sometimes over the years, it’s something or just a player that we have forgotten and those refreshers are awesome too so do not be afraid to make your argument for whoever.
So onto the list-
- Troy Drayton
- Ferrell Edmunds
- Anthony Fasano
- Marv Fleming
- Mike Gesicki
- Bruce Hardy
- Keith Jackson
- Jim Mandich
- Randy McMichael
- Joe Rose
Please comment below with your nomination for the all-time best tightened to ever play for the Miami Dolphins. Also please feel free to give your argument for why you selected who you selected.