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.
Number 42 was pretty much dominated by two players, including one Hall of Famer, wide receiver Paul Warfield (1970-74), who was the second player in team history to wear it. After spending the first six years of his career with the Cleveland Browns where he established himself as one of the best receivers in the game, Warfield joined the Dolphins prior to the 1970 season in exchange for a first-round pick in that year’s college draft. Despite the high price, the trade proved to be a bargain for the Dolphins, as Warfield became a key offensive performer on Miami’s great Super Bowl teams in the 1970s, including their “Perfect Season” championship in 1972. An explosive threat from his wideout position, Warfield’s 21.5 yards per reception is still the highest average in Miami history. Warfield, along with Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick, jumped to the World Football League after the 1974 campaign, and he eventually made his way back to the Browns where he finished his career. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982, with both the Browns and the Dolphins feeling a joint sense of pride. Oddly, #42 was an unusual number for a wide receiver such as Warfield to wear. He began his NFL career wearing that jersey after he was drafted by the Browns, who originally intended to use him as a defensive back. Warfield played that position, along with running back, at Ohio State, where passes were few and far between in Woody Hayes’ ground-oriented offense. Warfield kept that number when he joined the Browns, since the team was looking for him to play as a defensive back in the NFL. That thought ended quickly when the Browns saw how impressive he looked as a receiver during some workouts during his first few weeks with the team and moved him to wide receiver, beginning his journey to Canton. The next starter to wear the jersey was free safety Lyle Blackwood (1981-86). He joined the Dolphins from the Baltimore Colts in 1981, and immediately teamed with his younger brother, strong safety Glenn Blackwood, in the starting defensive backfield as part of the stifling “Killer B’s” defense. For the next six years, including the Super Bowl seasons of 1982 and ’84, the duo, nicknamed “The Bruise Brothers” for their physical play, gave the Dolphins an outstanding pair of safeties. Running back Terry Kirby (1995) wore the jersey his last year with the Dolphins after wearing # 43 his first two seasons. In his one season with this number, he led the Dolphins in receptions for the second time, ahead of some pretty good wideouts in Irving Fryar and O.J. McDuffie. The current player wearing the number, tight end Charles Clay
(2012-current) may prove to be one of the best. He had a breakout season last year with 69 catches for 759 yards, which both ranked among the tight end leaders in the NFL.
The complete list of Dolphins who have worn #42 includes Bill Darnall (1968-69); Warfield (1970-74); Vern Roberson (1977); Blackwood (1981-86); *Robert Sowell (1987); Ernest Gibson (1989); Chris Green (1991-94); Kirby (1995); Roosevelt Potts (1997); Trent Gamble (2000-03); Doug Easlick (2004); Norman LeJeune (2005-06); and Clay (2012-13).
Although not a starter, one player who wore #41 still holds a Super Bowl career record which he set during his tenure with the Dolphins. Can you name him and the record he holds?
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