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The oldest sports franchise in Florida, the Miami Dolphins have a long and illustrious history that includes two Super Bowl Championships and five AFC Championship crowns. The Dolphins have benefitted from elite coaching and skill-position play throughout their history and to this day have the only complete undefeated season in NFL history.

10. Marc Anthony And The Modern Era

In spite of the fact that Marc Anthony grew up a die-hard Giants fan in New York and his (then) wife Jennifer Lopez was raised as a Jets fan, in 2009 the celebrity super-couple invested a considerable chunk of their combined fortune into the Miami Dolphins franchise. Though J-Lo and Marc are no longer an item, it would seem that the union between celebrities and the Dolphins are a match made in heaven as the Dolphins’ current list of investment partners includes Anthony, Fergie and both Williams sisters. There’s just something about Miami when it comes to attracting young, sexy and exciting partnerships. Even HBO has capitalized on the newly minted polish of the modern era Dolphins, setting their scripted series “Ballers” in Miami, following the exploits of fictitious Dolphins players.

9. Ricky Williams’ Dank Career

Before we learned that Ricky Williams only liked playing football and he loved smoking weed, Ricky spent some of his most impressive seasons smoking linebackers in a Dolphins jersey. Williams came out of the University of Texas, drafted as a New Orleans Saint and started having an impact right away. In his rookie season, Willams racked up 884 rushing yards and added on 4 consecutive seasons rushing for over a thousand yard from 2000-2003, two with the Saints and two with the Dolphins. Though he left the game in favor of other exploits, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Williams rushed for over ten thousand yards in his 11-year career, most of it as a Dolphin.

8. 1982 “Killer Bees” Defense/ Player Strike

Due to the contentious players’ strike of 1982, the ordinary 16 game NFL season had to be shortened to 9 games. As a result, the teams were forced to play in an altered 16 team playoff tournament. The Dolphins took advantage of a cagy, blitz-heavy defense that came to be known as the “Killer Bees” because 6 of their 11 starters had names beginning with B. Though they were defeated in the Super Bowl by the Washington Redskins, the ’82 Dolphins made the most of a unique opportunity provided by the abbreviated season.

7. Evolution Of The Wildcat

In the years following the Dan Marino era, the Dolphins struggled to find their identity at quarterback—meanwhile, their divisional rival New England Patriots began their own era of coaching and quarterbacking dominance with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. In 2008, however, the Dolphins latched on to a revolutionary way to capitalize on their lack of a reliable quarterback, utilizing the Wildcat offense with tremendous success. The Dolphins managed to split games with the Pats in ’08 and earn the playoff bid ahead of them.

6. Super Bowl XIX

Just one season after drafting a young Dan Marino, the Dolphins surged to their fifth franchise Super Bowl on the heels of a fourteen win season. This game is known for pitting two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in a head-to-head matchup, Dan Marino, and Joe Montana. Though the defense of the ’89 Dolphins was notoriously suspect and ultimately unable to overcome San Francisco’s West Coast Offense, Marino still flashed the brilliance that he’d later come to personify in an impressive drive to give the Dolphins a 10-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

5. Jason Taylor’s HOF Career

It happens all the time, a beloved fixture in a franchise, adored by fans and coaches alike gets offered more money and has to move on to another organization. What you don’t hear as often are the instances when those athletes return to their fans and coaches out of loyalty, to finish their careers in the colors and number that made them legends, but that’s precisely how Jason Taylor finished his career. Drafted in the 1997 Draft by Miami, Taylor wasted no time making a name for himself, recording five sacks and forcing two fumbles in his rookie season. Taylor continued to play with distinction in the teal and orange, until his preeminent All-Star status priced the fins out of his free agency and he bounced back and forth between the Washington Redskins, the Dolphins (again) and the Jets, before coming back (a third time) to finish his career in Miami. Taylor is tied for the NFL fumble recovery record.

4. Drafting Dan Marino

In 1983, one year after dropping Super Bowl XVII to the Washington Racial Slurs the ‘Fins drafted the Quarterback who would lead them into the ‘90’s and would become a legend at his position, Dan Marino. Halfway through the ’83 season, Marino won the starter’s role away from David Woodley and the team never looked back. The very next season in 1984, Marino led the Dolphins to yet another Super Bowl against the Joe Montana led San Francisco 49ers. Though “Joe Cool” and the ‘9ers were too much for the Dolphins, Dan Marino remains a legend, a first ballot Hall of Famer and is widely regarded as the best NFL Quarterback to never win a Super Bowl.

3. Signing Of Don Shula

If you ask anyone who really knows about the best coaches of all time, it shouldn’t take long to hear about Don Shula, among the winningest coaches in NFL history and still the only head coach to lead his team to a perfect season. The Dolphins’ signing of Shula as their head coach began paying dividends right away, as he led them to the Super Bowl in his second, third and fourth years on the job. The move itself, however, was not without controversy, as the Dolphins’ signing of Shula in 1969 was deemed tampering by the NFL as it was discovered that negotiations between the team and the coach had taken place both before and after the NFL/AFL merger. As a result, the Dolphins were penalized, forced to give over their first-round draft pick to the Baltimore Colts in the 1970 draft.

2. The Team Of The 70’s

In just the third year of Don Shula’s time as head coach of the Dolphins, he led the team to their third Super Bowl in three years in 1973 and winning their second consecutive NFL Championship. Though some may quibble over the legitimacy of the 70’s Dolphins as a “Dynasty,” since they failed to win the 71’ Super Bowl, winning back to back championships in only the third and fourth years of a head coach’s career with a team certainly makes them the dominant force in the first half of the 70’s. Very few teams have been dominant enough to claim an entire decade as theirs, but the 1970-1975 Dolphins dominated the league in a way seldom seen and even less often matched.

1. The Perfect Season

NFL history is long and throughout there have been countless events and accomplishments that once seemed impossible. Yet, in the decades that professional football has been played in America, there has only been one team that finished without a loss on their record, the 1972 Dolphins. The crowning achievement in the brilliant career of football’s winningest head coach Don Shula, the ’72 Dolphins capped off their perfect season with a 14-7 victory over the Washington Racial Slurs in Super Bowl VII. Though the New England Patriots came close to matching this achievement in 2007, they lost to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII 17-14. The legend of the ’72 Dolphins still persists today, as rumor has it that members of that illustrious team still gather together every season to toast with champagne the first loss of the last undefeated team.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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