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99 Days Of 99 Jersey Numbers: #31

Posted Aug 7, 2014

This number was worn by some pretty good running backs who have been somewhat overlooked in Dolphins history.

As we tick the days off to the season opener against the Patriots on Sept. 7, each day we highlight the players who wore that particular jersey number during their tenure in Miami. In some cases, the player and jersey number are synonymous. In other cases, the jersey number represents sustained greatness at a particular position. Whatever the case may be, jersey numbers are an important part of the fabric of professional football.

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This number was worn by some pretty good running backs who have been somewhat overlooked in Dolphins history. The first was fullback Norm Bulaich (1975-79), who was an All-Pro when he played for the Baltimore Colts before eventually joining the Dolphins. Coming in when Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris and Jim Kiick had either just left the team or were on their way out, he had big shoes to fill and did an admirable, but unheralded job adding quality depth to the offensive backfield. He finished second in rushing on the Dolphins in 1976 with 540 yards, and his 4.4 average yards per carry in his Dolphin career is surpassed by only Mercury Morris, Tony Nathan, Reggie Bush and Larry Csonka among the other players joining him among the top twenty rushing leaders in team history. The next starter to wear it was a good one on the other side of the ball – safety Brock Marion (1998-03). He started all but one game at free safety during his six years with the Dolphins, and played well enough to earn three Pro Bowl selections during that time.  For most of his career in Miami he played alongside cornerbacks Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain, giving the team perhaps their strongest defensive backfield since the “Killer B’s” days. Marion, Madison, and Surtain were all named to the 2002 Pro Bowl team, the only time in Dolphin history they had three members of the defensive backfield named to that team the same year. Marion also was a talented kickoff returner, handling those duties as well during much of his tenure with the Dolphins. The jersey returned to a starting role in the team’s offensive backfield with the next person to wear it, running back Sammy Morris (2004-06), a versatile player who also saw occasional duty as a fullback. Dolphin fans probably don’t remember that he led the team in rushing one season in an unusual circumstance. Morris gained 523 yards on the ground in 2004 when he unexpectedly was thrust into a central role offensively following Ricky Williams’ abrupt departure right before the opening of training camp. Proving that production wasn’t a fluke, Morris finished second on the team two yards later with 400 yards on the ground. That was the last glimpse of glory for the jersey, with no one since then wearing it for more than a season. 

The complete list of Dolphins who have worn #31 includes George Chesser (1967); Barry Pryor (1969-70); Terry Cole (1971); Norm Bulaich (1975-79); Rick Moser (1980); Eddie Hill (1981-84); Sean Hill (1994-96); Brock Marion (1998-03); Sammy Morris (2004-06); Lance Schulters (2007); Evan Oglesby (2010); Al Harris (2010); Charles Clay (2011); Richard Marshall (2012); and Michael Thomas (2013)
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Tomorrow: What player wearing # 30 first worked for UPS before making the Dolphins and eventually leading the team in rushing?

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