One of the storied franchises in the NFL today, Miami started in the AFL in 1966. In 5 short years, they were able to make their first Super Bowl, which they lost to the Dallas Cowboys 24-3. The following year the Dolphins completed the only undefeated season in NFL history, winning all 14 regular-season games and all 3 playoff games, culminating in a Super Bowl victory over the Washington Redksins, 14-7.
Miami completed the first stretch of 3 straight Super Bowls by winning the next year as well, beating the Minnesota Vikings 24-7. Under the leadership of head coach Don Shula, the Dolphins went to a total of 5 Super Bowls, winning two, and only had 2 losing seasons in his 33 years as the head coach. Although they have not had the same success in recent years, they have stockpiled a lot of draft picks in recent years and are looking to rebuild ti bring back the days of glory to South Beach.
With players like Dan Marino and Larry Csonka, the Dolphins have had many great players in their history. Here are some of the top NFL bobbleheads from the Miami Dolphins.
Dan Marino – Quarterback 1983 – 1999
Any discussion about the Miami Dolphins history must include Dan Marino. Selected with the 27th overall pick in the quarterback heavy 1983 NFL draft, Marino would go on to set just about every NFL passing record before he retired.
Starting with a 1983 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, by Sporting News, Marino took over in week 6 of that season as the starter and never looked back. In his second season with the team, Marino broke 6 single-season NFL records, including most touchdown passes with 48 and most passing yards with 5,084 and won the NFL MVP award that year.
The Dolphins would make it to the Super Bowl that year, losing to Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers 38-16, but the future was bright for young Marino. Little did he know that would be his only Super Bowl appearance.
Even though he did not ever win a Super Bowl, Dan Marino is known as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. Playing in an era of football that was more known for strong running games and hard-hitting, Marino held just about every major passing record when he retired, including most passing yard in a career, 61,361, which wasn’t passed until Brett Favre did so in 2007, and most all-time passing touchdowns with 420, passed by Favre also in 2007.
While accumulating all of those records, Dan Marino went to 9 Pro Bowls and 7 first – or second-team All-Pro selections. Marino also won the NFL Comeback Player of the year in 1994 and the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 1998. He also became one of 3 Dolphins to have his jersey retired by the organization.
Larry Csonka – Running Back 1968- 1979
Csonka was the 8th pick overall in the 1968 NFL draft by the Dolphins and had a rough first two season, missing multiple games because of concussions and never really gaining traction as a running back.
When Don Shula joined the team in 1970, he was able to revitalize his career, and he did not miss a game the next 4 years after Shula taught him to lead with his forearm when he ran as opposed to his head. Csonka was one of the biggest running backs of the day, standing 6’3″, 235 pounds.
Leading the Dolphins in rushing from 1970 – 1974, Csonka was an integral part of the team that went to three straight Super Bowls, winning two of them. He was also named MVP for Super Bowl VIII. His number would be retired by the Dolphins, one of only three to have been retired by the team, with Marino and Bob Griese being the other two.
Bob Griese – Quarterback 1967 – 1980
The last of the three players to have their jerseys retired by the Miami Dolphins is Bob Griese, the quarterback that led the Dolphins to 3 Super Bowl Appearances and 2 wins.
With the 4th overall pick in the 1967 NFL draft, Griese was selected to 6 Pro Bowls in the ’70s and was named the NFL MVP in 1971, which would be the first of three straight Super Bowl appearances for the Dolphins.
Ricky Williams – Running Back 1999 – 2011
Drafted by the New Orleans Saints with the 5th overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft, Williams had an up and down career, eventually not living up to his great potential coming out of the University of Texas.
Williams was traded to the Dolphins in 2002 for 4 draft picks, including 2 number 1’s. He had a great first season with the Dolphins, leading the league in rushing with 1,853 which included 10 games over 100 yards. He followed that up in 2003 with 1,372 yards rushing, but soon after tested positive for marijuana and faced a fine and a 4-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Instead of taking the suspension, Ricky Williams announced his retirement from football, taking the entire 2004 season off, while the Dolphins went 4-12. Before the 2005 season, Ricky came back and served his 4-game suspension while have a decent season alongside fellow running back Ronnie Brown.
After the 2005 season, Ricky Williams reportedly failed a drug test for the 4th time and was suspended for the entire 2006 season, in which he decided to play for the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL. After having a reasonably successful stint in the CFL, rushing for 526 yards on 109 rushes, while also catching 19 passes for another 127 yards, Williams came back to the Dolphins in 2007.
After injuries and a backfield by committee derailed the following two seasons, Williams became only the 7th player over 32 to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season, doing so in 2009. When Ronnie Brown went down with a season-ending injury, Williams stepped up and set an NFL record for the longest stretch between 1,000-yard season, with his first such season since 2003.
With 5 overall seasons over 1,000 yards, Ricky Williams definitely had some bright spots in his career, but with the talent that he possessed, it is tough not to wonder how great he could have been without the off the field distractions.
Kenyan Drake – Running Back 2016 – present
Drake was drafted at the wrong time in Miami’s history. Picked in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL draft with the 73rd overall pick, Drake has shown his skill while playing for the University of Alabama for 4 years. In his first 3 and a half years with Miami, Drake has shown flashes but unable to succeed, until he was traded halfway through the 2019 season to the Arizona Cardinals.
Jarvis Landry – Wide Receiver 2014 – present
Landry was drafted out of the 2014 NFL draft from LSU in the second round, 63rd pick overall. While playing on a lackluster Miami team, Landry has been selected to the Pro Bowl each of the last 5 years, including the last 2 years with the Cleveland Browns.
Landry has had at least 975 in each of those 5 years and led the lead in receptions in 2017 with the Dolphins. Although the Dolphins as a team did not have much success in his tenure there, Landy proved that he was one of the league’s top receivers.
Reggie Bush – Running Back 2006 – 2016
Reggie Bush played for multiple teams throughout his 10-year career, but had arguably his two best statistical seasons while in Miami for two years, in 2010-11. He rushed for 2,072 yards in those two seasons, with 12 touchdowns.
In addition, Bush added 78 receptions and almost 600 yards receiving out of the backfield as well. Reggie Bush won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints in 2009, but was able to show off his skills more in these two years with Miami.
Zach Thomas – Middle Linebacker 1996 – 2008
Thomas played almost his entire 13-year career with the Miami Dolphins, starting at middle linebacker his rookie season. Drafted in the 5th round of the NFL draft out of Texas Tech, he was originally planned to play special teams early on, but he proved to be a force and took the job, causing the Dolphins to release former started Jack Del Rio.
Thomas won the AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year that year, on his way to be selected to 7 Pro Bowls in an 8-year stretch from 1999-2006. Outside of two seasons in which he missed multiple games due to injuries, Thomas made at least 125 tackles in each of his other 10 years with the Dolphins. A member of the 2000s All-Decade Team, Zach Thomas is truly one of the best players in Miami Dolphin history.
Ryan Tannehill – Quarterback 2012 – present
Tannehill was drafted with the 8th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft out of the University of Texas A&M. He was intended to be the Dolphins franchise quarterback, but it never managed to work out. He spent his first 7 years in the league, 6 of those as the starting quarterback, which is the most since Dan Marino retired.
While he was the 17th starting quarterback since Marino, he joined Marino and Bob Griese as the only quarterbacks who were drafted in the first round of the draft. Although there were spurts where Tannehill put up good numbers, reaching 4,000 yards passing in two seasons, the Dolphins did not have any success during his time there and was traded to the Tennesee Titans before the 2019 season.
Miami Dolphin fans hope that they return to their past glory, as it has been a long time since they have even been to the Super Bowl. They have only reached the playoffs twice since 2001. With an abundance of high draft picks the next coupe of years, there is hope that can happen.
Is there any other Miami Dolphins that you would like to see with their own bobblehead? Let me know in the comments below!