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Dolphins retired jersey numbers: Time to formalize Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas

The time to officially retire 54 and 99 is here.

Jason Taylor/Zach Thomas

The Miami Dolphins have retired three jersey numbers, Bob Griese’s number 12, Dan Marino’s number 13, and Larry Csonka’s 39. That is the extent of the numbers the Dolphins have have taken out of use, officially. Two other numbers have been shadow retired, with Zach Thomas’ number 54 and Jason Taylor’s 99 no longer used by the franchise. The 2023 season is the time to finally honor those two players and put their numbers in the same standing as the other legendary numbers.

On Thursday night, the Pro Football Hall of Fame righted a wrong when they announced Thomas would be a member of the 2023 induction class. Now that Thomas is headed to the Hall of Fame, where he will join Taylor who was inducted in 2017, it is time for the Dolphins to hang the 54 and 99 for good.

The Dolphins last retired a number in 2002 when they gave the honor to Csonka’s 39. They retired Marino’s 13 in 2000 and Griese’s 12 in 1982. The team began in 1966 and has two numbers from their 1970s era retired (12 and 39), and one from their 1980/90s era (13). Thomas played for Miami from 1996, when he was a fifth-round pick, through 2007. Taylor, a third round pick, was a Dolphins player through the 2007 season, then came back for the 2009 and 2011 seasons. Miami has an amazing history and they have a chance to really solidify that history by recognizing the two players who started at the end of the Marino era and carried on through the 2000s.

Thomas was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, a five-time First-Team All-Pro selection, as the AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1996, and twice led the league in tackles (2002 and 2006). He recorded 1,640 tackles with the Dolphins, along with 19.5 sacks, 17 interceptions (with four touchdowns), 48 passes defensed, 16 forced fumbles, and seven fumble recoveries. He leads the team in all-time tackles, is fourth in forced fumbles, and is 16th in team history in interceptions - the only non-defensive back in the top 21.

Taylor was a six-time Pro Bowl selection, a three-time First-Team All-Pro selection, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2006, the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2007, and holds the NFL record for career fumble return touchdowns. He finished his Dolphins career with 723 tackles, 131 sacks, eight interceptions (with three touchdowns), 72 passes defensed, 43 forced fumbles, and 27 fumble recoveries (including the record six touchdowns). He is the all-time leader in sacks for the team, along with also leading the team in forced fumbles, fumble recoveries (not counting Marino who had 43 mostly off botched snap exchanges). He is fourth all-time for the club in passes defensed, one of only two players for the team who did not play in the secondary to reach the top 18 - Thomas being the other coming in at seventh all time.

Since Thomas and Taylor left the Dolphins, there have been great players but there have been few to rise to the level of arguably worth of a jersey retirement. Thomas and Taylor blow past the “arguably” worth a jersey retirement mark. The 2023 season needs to include Miami officially putting away the numbers of Thomas and Taylor. No one needs to ever wear 54 or 99 again for the Dolphins.