Mount Dolphmore: Casting the Miami Dolphins’ Greats in Stone
Each NFL team has several faces that will live on forever through the memory of team’s fans. For some franchises, the process of narrowing down those great identities is very difficult. For others it is fairly simple. For Miami, it is not simple due to a lack of greatness- it is simple due to the magnitude of greatness, with incredibly distinguished figures standing above all others. Much like the United States did in memorializing some of our greatest leaders on Mount Rushmore, I have assembled the Miami Dolphins’ symbol of honor for our franchise’s greatest faces. This monument is now officially named Mount Dolphmore. Please enjoy, and feel free to comment with the 4 faces you hold above all others in Dolphins’ history.
The Founding Father- Joe Robbie
While he may not be the first name that comes to mind, we all owe everything to Joe Robbie. If it were not for Robbie, we might not have a football team in Miami. Joe Robbie established the winning culture in Miami throughout the 1970s. Whatever effort or financial commitment he had to make, he did. As long as it would improve the team. Our current stadium? The House that Joe Built. Robbie personally funded the construction, footing the $115 million by himself. It is a damn shame that the Dolphins do not still play in a stadium bearing Joe Robbie’s name.
I know it is controversial to leave some of Miami’s greatest players, including All-Pros and Hall of Famers off of this list in favor of Robbie, but fans that understand the history of the team know that he deserves to be the first man on this list. It is a travesty that Robbie is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He should also be in the Sock on the Doorknob Hall of Fame with 11 children. ELEVEN. CHILDREN. Give this man a prize.
The Genius- Don Shula
His resume does not need to be restated. Most wins by a coach in NFL history. He coached three championship-winning teams (2 Super Bowls with Miami, and one NFL Championship with Baltimore in 1968). He made it to the big game 6 times, which is tied for first with the man that our great coach lovingly named “Belicheat” (he said it, not me). He was named Coach of the Year 6 times. Ladies and gentlemen, Don Shula.
Shula still stands for everything the Miami Dolphins were able to achieve in the 1970s: integrity, strength, determination, and consistency. He was one of the most versatile head coaches in NFL history, able to create prolific ground and air attacks in separate eras, winning in every way imaginable. You’ve got to be creative to win 328 games. Especially considering for the first 15 years of his career there were only 14 games played in a season. If I could insert that GIF of The Rock clapping after every sentence I would. Oh wait, I can.
Shula has also diversified his business identity, putting his name on everything you could possibly imagine. Shula Burger, Shula Hotel, Shula Steakhouse, and soon we will have Shula Shoelaces. I still have yet to pitch him the “Shulaces” idea, but I’m pretty sure he’ll love it. Catch me on Sharktank next week.
The Big Stick- Larry Csonka
Now there is no way to confirm this, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Larry Csonka is the only running back to shatter a defender’s jaw with his fist. And keep running. With no hesitation. Teddy Roosevelt believed in Big Stick Democracy, so it is only right that his place on Mount Rushmore is occupied by a man who firmly believed in Big Stick Football. The Hungarian Hulk himself, Mr. Larry Csonka.
Csonka was one of the most important pieces to the championship blueprint for Miami. He was able to establish an attitude that allowed the team to literally run over its competition en route to an undefeated season in 1972. He is just about the toughest S.O.B you could ever find on this earth. The current update on Csonka is that he owns a cabin and spends his time as an outdoorsman in Alaska. The funny thing is, I don’t think Csonka needs the cabin. Even in the winter, he simply runs through the cold as if it was an undersized defender making a sorry attempt at a tackle. And yes, the cold runs the other way.
The Man of the People- Dan Marino
Here’s a quick history lesson for you: Dan Marino wore number 13. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. The slaves were freed with the 13th amendment. Coincidence? Or did Dan Marino actually free the slaves? You tell me.
Marino is obviously a lock for Mount Dolphmore. He began his assault on the NFL’s record books immediately upon entering the league, and never slowed down. Marino was the key to Shula’s evolution, as he transitioned the Miami Dolphins into a pass first offense, and really revolutionized the game of football. If Marino and Shula came together in today’s NFL, their offense would still be one of the league’s most potent.
I’m sorry I have to bring this up. You know I don’t like it. Nobody likes it. But Dan Marino’s career will always
have a very large, glaring absence. Like a car without wheels. Like a Patriots season without some violation of the NFL’s rules. Like a Dolphins VS. Jets game without a screaming, intoxicated New Yorker who lives in a gated community in Boca Raton. Yes, I am talking about Marino’s lack of a Super Bowl ring. Fans can talk about this until they are blue in the face, but the fact of the matter is that 1) wins are not a quarterback statistic and that championships require an entire team, and 2) Dan Marino was one of the greatest pure passers that the game of football has ever seen. Ring or no ring- Marino will always hold a place as one of the greatest players in Miami Dolphins history. He also produced one of the greatest advertising campaigns in Dolphins’ history as well. Now this is how you really sell a driving glove:
Taylor was almost certainly the greatest pass rusher in Miami Dolphins’ history, and was universally loved by fans for over a decade. So what kept him from cracking Mount Dolphmore? The year he spent with the New York Jets. It’s heartbreaking to see pictures of Taylor in green, and it is a truly unforgivable offense. We will always love him for returning to Miami on the “Jason Taylor Farewell Tour”, but the year in New York still stings.
Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris-
I almost made one spot go to the entire “Perfect Backfield”, but decided that if the list was about the faces that embody the franchise’s history that Csonka earned his own spot. Morris has a checkered past, and Kiick was really a complementary piece to Morris and Csonka. The team would not have been able to go undefeated without all three backs, all of whom were incredibly talented and integral to the success of Shula’s aggressive ground attack, but Larry Csonka is the only one that makes the cut for Mount Dolphmore.
I have a confession- John Denney could be my favorite player in Miami Dolphins’ history. I own his jersey, and will proudly wear 92 for the rest of my life. Denney has seen it all, and has been a loyal team contributor for 10 years now. Why are we celebrating the team’s 50th anniversary? The real celebration is that we have been blessed with 5 years of the NFL’s best long snapper. If it was up to me, Mount Dolphmore would simply be one face, repeated four times: Jonathan Denney.
A very special thank you to Julia Sorensen for the graphics and visuals in this article. Mount Dolphmore will always hold a special place for you, Julia. Right between John Denney and John Denney.