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.
This is a number that excelled early but has struggled for an identity since then. It was worn in the Dolphins inaugural season by wide receiver Bo Roberson (1966), who led the team in reception yardage that year and became the first Dolphin to gain 100 yards in receptions in a game. But Roberson retired after that season, having already compiled an impressive career with the Chargers, Raiders and Bills before joining the Dolphins. He also won a silver medal in the long jump at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome after graduating from Cornell University. He was a rarity on two levels; he was one of only two Dolphins players (along with Jim Hines) to also win an Olympic medal, and one of the few to have an Ivy League degree, an Olympic medal, and an NFL career. After Roberson retired, the jersey found its way to strong safety Dick Anderson (1968-77), one of the best players in Dolphin history. He was one of the key performers on the “No-Name” defense of the early 1970s, helping lead the Dolphins to three Super Bowl berths and two World Championships, including the perfect 17-0 season in 1972. He played ten seasons with Miami, and along with free safety Jake Scott gave the Dolphins the best safety tandem in team history. He had 34 interceptions in his career, the second highest total in Dolphin history and made three Pro Bowl appearances. In 1973 he was named as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year (one of only three Dolphins ever to earn that honor, along with Doug Betters and Jason Taylor) and was elected to the Dolphin Honor Roll in 2006. The jersey was then worn by safety Mike Kozlowski (1981-86) who switch from number 37 after the 1980 campaign. “Koz” was a talented and popular player during his time in Miami, but he was never able to break into the starting lineup because of all the outstanding players on the “Killer B’s” defense of that era, including the Blackwood brothers at safety. Since then the only player to have made an impact while wearing that jersey was running back Irving Spikes (1994-96), who was a valuable backup behind Bernie Parmalee and Karim Abdul-Jabbar during his tenure in Miami.
The complete list of Dolphins who have worn #40 includes Roberson (1966); Anderson (1968-77); Kozlowski (1981-86); *John Swain (1987); Spikes (1994-96); Ray Green (2001-02); Sean McDermott (2003); Donovin Darius (2007); Jonathon Amaya (2010); Charles Alexander (2011); Anderson Russell (2012); and Tyler Clutts (2013)
Larry Csonka is the only player in Dolphin history to wear #39. He left Miami in 1975 to play for a team in the rival World Football League. Can you name the team?
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