Jason Taylor is sixth all time among NFL sacks leaders and the league’s 2006 Defensive Player of the Year. Joe Rimkus Jr./Miami Herald file

Miami Herald sports columnist Greg Cote’s list of the top 50 most important figures in Miami Dolphins franchise history.

People whose names are highlighted, like Dan Marino, hold a Dolphins team record or have received an honor. Click their names for details. See our full Hall of Records list here.

Bob East/Miami Herald file

50. Joe Auer

Running back (1966-1967)

A sentimental nod. Auer rushed for only 544 yards in his two seasons but was the kid from Coral Gables High who ran opening kick 95 yards for TD in Dolphins’ first-ever game. Long before the Perfect Season, Auer got the franchise off to the Perfect Start.

Wilfredo Lee/AP file

49. Rick Weaver

Broadcaster (1971-1993)

The longtime “Voice of the Dolphins,” Weaver was the radio announcer credited with introducing the white hanky waving that became integral with the ambiance at the old Orange Bowl.

AP file

48. Jim Mandich

Tight end (1970-1977)

Only seven receivers in club history caught more TD passes than Mandich’s 23, but he became as known later as the popular longtime radio analyst on Dolphins broadcasts. “Awwriight, Miami!”

Miami Herald file

47. A.J. Duhe

Linebacker (1977-1984)

Duhe had four sacks in the 1982 postseason along with three interceptions (one returned for a TD) in the AFC Championship Game to lead Miami into its first Super Bowl since the Glory Years.

C.W. Griffin/Miami Herald file

46. Patrick Surtain

Cornerback (1998-2004)

Surtain had 29 interceptions and three Pro Bowls and formed, with Sam Madison, probably the two best CBs in club history both individually and in tandem.

Bob Eighmie/Miami Herald file

45. Monte Clark

Assistant coach (1970-75, 1995)

Those great Larry Little/Jim Langer/Bob Kuechenberg-led offensive lines that paved the path to consecutive Super Bowl wins — those were Clark’s guys.

Kathy Willens/AP file

44. Reggie Roby

Punter (1983-1992)

Brandon Fields might have broken many of his records, but Roby, with his distinctive form and sky-piercing trajectory, still is the punter who comes first to mind in franchise annals.

David Bergman/Miami Herald file

43. O.J. McDuffie

Receiver (1993-2001)

McDuffie is fourth in career catches (415), fifth in yards (5,074), sixth in TD receptions (29) and still holds the single-season mark with 90 catches in 1998.

Miami Herald file

42. Norm Evans

Tackle (1966-1975)

Too little remembered, perhaps, but Evans earned a spot on club’s Silver Anniversary team as one of the key players to bridge the expansion and championship eras.

Al Diaz/Miami Herald file

41. Ryan Tannehill

Quarterback (2012-current)

Tannehill already is third in career passing yards after Dan Marino and Bob Griese, and is the only Fins QB besides Marino to surpass 4,000 yards in a season.

AP file

40. Jim Kiick

Running back (1968-1974)

With Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris, Kiick formed the indispensable third prong to the ground attack that led the way to back-to-back Super Bowl championships.

Lynne Sladky/AP file

39. Ed Newman

Guard (1973-1984)

Newman tutored behind the great Larry Little and Bob Kuechenberg and learned well, becoming the next great Dolphins guard and retiring sixth in career games played with 167.

AP file

38. Tony Nathan

Running back (1979-1987)

The best all-round, two-way back in club history, Nathan is the only Dolphin to top 3,500 in career rushing yards and receiving yards.

J. Pat Carter/AP file

37. Wayne Huizenga

Owner (1994-2008)

For better or worse, an active, influential owner who had a hand in replacing Don Shula with Jimmy Johnson, hiring Nick Saban, bringing in Bill Parcells and more.

AP file

36. Earl Morrall

Quarterback (1972-1976)

Earl Morrall was Bob Griese’s veteran, crewcut backup but was called upon to start nine games during the 17-0 run of 1972. He was the team MVP for the Perfect Season. Enough said.

Al Diaz/Miami Herald file

35. Sam Madison

Cornerback (1997-2005)

Third in club annals with 31 interceptions returned 487 yards. Madison made four Pro Bowls, and, opposite Patrick Surtain, gave Miami great cornerback play for years.

AP file

34. Garo Yepremian

Kicker (1970-1978)

Lovable Garo was best known for a gaffe, his Super Bowl “pass,” but made NFL’s 1970s All-Decade team and had some of biggest field goals in club history. Still second all-time in franchise scoring.

Joe Rimkus Jr./Miami Herald file

33. John Offerdahl

Linebacker (1986-1993)

Offerdahl went onto Dolphins Honor Roll in 2013. Came after Nick Buoniconti and before Zach Thomas on the timeline of team’s great inside linebackers and tackle machines.

Ron Schwane/Miami Herald file

32. Edwin Pope

Journalist (1966-2010)

The legendary Miami Herald columnist chronicled Dolphins from their inception until his retirement, with stadium pressbox named in his honor. And it was Pope who suggested to Joe Robbie that he hire Don Shula.

Doug Jennings/AP file

31. Doug Betters

Defensive end (1978-1987)

Still third in club annals with 65.5 career sacks, Betters had 16 sacks in 1983 and was selected as the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year.

AP file

30. Bill Stanfill

Defensive end (1969-76)

Stanfill is second in career sacks for Miami with 67.5, including 18.5 in 1973. But was edged out by Vern Den Herder and Doug Betters for Silver Anniversary team honors.

AP file

29. Vern Den Herder

Defensive end (1971-1981)

Formed half of the Glory Years sack tandem with Bill Stanfill. Den Herder had 64 career sacks and made the franchise’s Silver Anniversary team.

C.W. Griffin/Miami Herald file

28. Bob Baumhower

Defensive tackle (1977-1986)

Baumhower was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and the run-stopping lynchpin of the franchise’s famed “Killer B’s” defenses.

Al Diaz/Miami Herald file

27. Cameron Wake

Defensive end (2009-current)

Top-ranked active Dolphin on list, Wake has 63 sacks in six seasons with four Pro Bowl nods. Needs only five sacks to be second all time in the category, behind only Jason Taylor.

Miami Herald file

26. Mercury Morris

Running back (1969-1975)

The exciting, dynamic “Merc” averaged 5.1 yards per carry as the halcyon-days counterpart that made Miami’s vaunted ground game work — the outside threat to Csonka’s bull runs up the middle.

Joe Rimkus Jr./Miami Herald file

25. Ricky Williams

Running back (2002-2003, 2005, 2007-2010)

Enigmatic, frustrating, controversial, fascinating. Williams was all that. He also is the club’s No. 2 all-time rusher after Larry Csonka, and no one had more yards in season (1,853) or game (228).

David Bergman/Miami Herald file

24. Richmond Webb

Tackle (1990-2000)

Only four Dolphins started more games than Webb’s 162, which included 118 in a row from 1991 to 1998. And only Dan Marino made the Pro Bowl more times for Miami than Webb’s seven.

Joe Rimkus Jr./Miami Herald file

23. Tim Bowens

Defensive tackle (1994-2004)

Run-stopping force started more games at position than anyone in club history. Current Fins hope Ndamukong Suh joins Manny Fernandez, Bob Baumhower and Bowens on club’s DT Mount Rushmore.

AP file

22. Jim Langer

Center (1970-1979)

Hall of Famer Jim Langer was at the center, literally and figuratively, of Bob Griese’s best seasons, the league’s most feared running game and Miami’s back-to-back championships.

Raul de Molina/AP file

21. Nat Moore

Receiver (1974-1986)

Overshadowed by Paul Warfield before him and by the “Marks Bothers” after, Moore had only one Pro Bowl season but is third in club annals with 510 catches for 7,547 yards, and second with 74 TDs.

AP file

20. Jake Scott

Safety (1970-1975)

Jake Scott had a club-record 35 interceptions in only six seasons, and was MVP of the Super Bowl that ended the 1972 season at 17-0. Had biggest impact of any defensive player whose Miami career was so brief.

Miami Herald file

19. Manny Fernandez

Defensive tackle (1968-1975)

Miami’s first great run-stopping tackle, Fernandez had 17 tackles in the Super Bowl that completed the Perfect Season. Jake Scott won, but most thought Fernandez should have been game’s MVP.

Battle Vaughan/Miami Herald file

18. Paul Warfield

Receiver (1970-1974)

Warfield had greatest offensive impact of anyone whose Miami career was so brief. He averaged 21.5 yards per catch as the championship-era receiver whose deep threat keyed ground game’s success.

Bill Hudson/AP file

17. Bill Arnsparger

Defensive coach (1970-1973, 1976-1983)

The franchise’s most important assistant coach, Arnsparger was architect of the champion “No-Name” defense and later the famed “Killer B’s” defense.

Donna E. Natale Planas/Miami Herald file

16. Orange Bowl

Stadium (1966-1986)

Long before it became decrepit and eventually demolished, the Dolphins’ home their first 21 seasons featured an intimate and raucous atmosphere that created one of league’s greatest home-field advantages.

David Bergman/Miami Herald file

15. Mark Duper

Receiver (1982-1992)

The other “Marks Brother,” Duper is franchise leader with 8,869 receiving yards. He averaged a dynamic 17.4 per catch and scored 59 TDs on 511 receptions.

AP file

14. Dick Anderson

Safety (1968-1977)

Anderson had 34 interceptions for a club-record 792 return yards and was NFL’s 1973 Defensive Player of Year. Had franchise-record 51 takeaways. His four picks in one game is club record still unequaled.

Miami Herald file

13. Bob Kuechenberg

Guard (1970-1984)

Only Marino served the Dolphins longer than Kuechenberg’s 15 seasons, and only Marino and Jason Taylor played more games for Miami than “Kooch’s” 196 career games.

Joe Skipper/AP file

12. Mark Clayton

Receiver (1983-1992)

An eighth-round draft gem, Clayton was brash and backed it up, with franchise-best 550 catches and 82 touchdowns. His 8,643 receiving yards were close second to his fellow “Marks Brother” Duper.

Battle Vaughan/Miami Herald file

11. Nick Buoniconti

Linebacker (1969-76)

Acquiring Buoniconti from the Boston Patriots helped give the Fins’ expansion-era defense veteran leadership and transform it into a unit that won two championships.

AP file

10. Joe Thomas

Executive (1966-1971)

A name on our list many might not know, Thomas was the expansion-era general manager. The bounty of talent he signed that Don Shula inherited included Larry Csonka, Larry Little, Bob Griese, Nick Buoniconti and Dick Anderson.

Joe Rimkus Jr./Miami Herald file

9. Zach Thomas

Linebacker (1996-2007)

A fifth-round draft pick supposedly too short and too slow, Thomas became seven-time Pro Bowler, had most tackles in club history and was a blue-collar favorite of Dolfans.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP file

8. Dwight Stephenson

Center (1980-87)

Stephenson bridged the era from the end of Griese’s career to the greatest days of Marino and made the Hall of Fame despite a knee injury cutting short a stellar career.

Miami Herald file

7. Bob Griese

Quarterback (1967-1980)

Griese was underregarded — he threw only 18 total passes in the two Super Bowl wins — but the bespectacled Hall of Famer held every Dolphins passing mark, pre-Marino.

Miami Herald

6. Jason Taylor

Defensive end (1997-2007, 2009, 2011)

Sixth all time among NFL sacks leaders and the league’s 2006 Defensive Player of the Year, “J.T.” stands as the greatest defensive player in club history.

Jim Kerlin/AP file

5. Larry Little

Guard (1969-1980)

Miami’s acquisition of Little from San Diego on July 2, 1969 (in exchange for cornerback Mack Lamb) might have been the single greatest trade in franchise history.

Miami Herald file

4. Larry Csonka

Fullback (1968-1974, 1979)

“Zonk” epitomized the hard-nosed, ground-oriented Dolphins teams that won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1972-1973. Still club’s all-time rushing leader with 6,737 yards.

Battle Vaughan/Miami Herald file

3. Joe Robbie

Owner (1966-1989)

The father of the franchise, Robbie was the Minneapolis lawyer who founded the Dolphins and later saw the team’s new stadium built of his own ingenuity, with no public funding.

Eric Miller/AP file

2. Dan Marino

Quarterback (1983-1999)

Marino passed for 61,361 yards and 420 touchdowns, retiring with those and other all-time NFL records. The most accomplished, iconic and beloved of all players in club history.

Al Diaz/Miami Herald file

1. Don Shula

Head coach (1970-95)

Shula is the winningest coach in NFL history, including two Super Bowl championships, the sport’s only Perfect Season and a mere two losing records in 26 Miami seasons. Any questions?


Who else do you think should have made it to the list? Would you have picked a different person as the greatest figure in Dolphins' history?

Produced by Kara Dapena