Miami Dolphins NFL Football

The Miami Dolphins, currently owned by H. Wayne Huizenga, joined the league as a franchise expansion team in 1965 under owners Joe Robbie and Danny Thomas. They played their first game in the Orange Bowl in 1966, and in 1970 they became a part of the AFL-NFL merger, making them the oldest sports franchise in Florida. Synonymous with the Dolphins is the name Don Schula, their long-time head coach, and a legend in NFL history. They played their first Super Bowl in 1971, losing to the Dallas Cowboys, but Schula’s outstanding coaching brought them to their greatest season in 1972. They set a perfect record of 17-0-0, winning 14 games, two playoffs, and a spectacular Super Bowl VII over the Washington Redskins. To date, this history-making season has never been beat by another team in the NFL. Led by Schula, their winning streak continued in 1973, when they won Super Bowl VIII by defeating the Minnesota Vikings, and went on to make history as the first NFL team to advance to three consecutive Bowl games.

During the 1970’s, the Dolphins set more records with Hall of Fame players including Nick Buoniconti, Larry Little, Jim Langer, and Paul Warfield. Indeed, these were memorable years for the Dolphins, with star players such as Larry Csonka, fullback picked in 1968, and Bob Griese, drafted as quarterback in 1967, and voted six times as the team’s MVP. Csonka’s powerful running style earned him the nicknames of “Zonk,” and the “Lawnmower Machine,” and MVP, as well. At the time of their spectacular 1972 season, the term “No Name Defense” came into being with outstanding defensive linemen Manny Fernandez and Bill Stanfill. Although the focus seemed to be on their strong offense, these now familiar names often made the difference in the Dolphins’ winning streak. In 1974, they once again reached the playoffs, but lost to the Oakland Raiders, in what is considered one of the greatest games in football history, the “Sea of Hands.” After this loss, Czonka, Warfield, and Kiick left the team for the short-lived World Football League for a brief time, but soon returned.

The 1980’s saw the retirement of Griese and the entrance of David Woodley as the new quarterback, along with the 1983 draft of another Dolphin great, Dan Marino. The success of the Dolphins continued with Marino, who broke all-time NFL records for the most yards, passes, and completions in a truly illustrious career. Once again, they managed to get to the playoffs and Marino set more season records, with 48 touchdown passes and 362 completions. Named MVP in 1984, Marino made his only Super Bowl (XIX) appearance, but the Dolphins ended the season by losing to the San Francisco 49’ers.

They moved to the Joe Robbie Stadium in 1987, but the early 1990’s were lack-luster years for the team. In 1995, however, Marino continued to excel by breaking Fran Tarkenton’s old record for career passing yards of 47,003, and in November of the same year, set another record for most career touchdown passes with the 343rd thrown against the Indianapolis Colts. Even more credit goes to Dan Marino who remains the only quarterback to date to throw over 60,000 passing yards, more than 400 touchdown passes, and a grand total of more touchdown passes and completions than anyone else in the history of football.

In 1995, Schula retired and Jimmy Johnson became their new coach. 1999 was not a good year for the team, however, as Johnson left and Marino retired. Under their new coach, Dave Wannstedt, offense and defense training was intensive; yet, with numerous trades and drafts, injuries, and unfavorable media reports, the Dolphins made little progress. Ricky Williams joined the team as running back, but the offense was weak and he had limited opportunity to run the ball. As history reveals, Williams was forced to sit out a few games due to violating NFL substance abuse rules. Although Nick Saban took over the team as head coach in 2005 and reshaping began, he was never liked and has since left the position in early 2007 to present-day coach, Cam Cameron.

The Miami Dolphins contribute a great deal to the community through charitable donations and appearances by players, cheerleaders, and alumni, in addition to awarding scholarships and visiting schools and hospitals. Home games are played in the Dolphin Stadium at 2269 Dan Marino Boulevard in Miami Gardens, a suburb of Miami, and their training camp is located at the Nova Southeastern University campus in Davie, Florida. The team has officially signed to play at Wembley Stadium in London against the NY Giants on October 28, 2007. This will be the opening game and a part of the NFL agreement to play two games each season outside the U.S. for the next five years, in response to the increased popularity of the NFL overseas.

Retired numbers: 347 Schula (246 of these representing the number of Dolphin victories he coached); #12 Bob Griese — 1982; #13 Dan Marino — 2000; #39 Czonka — 2002.

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