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99 Days Of 99 Jersey Numbers: #44

Posted Jul 25, 2014

This number holds a special, but relatively unknown place, 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 holds a special, but relatively unknown place, in Dolphins history  - it was the first jersey to ever score a defensive touchdown when strong safety Pete Jacquess (1966-67) returned a Joe Namath interception 27 yards for a touchdown on Sept. 9, 1966 vs. the New York Jets. However, that was the high point for a while, since the jersey really didn’t find a home until cornerback Paul Lankford (1982-91) wore it during his ten years with the club. After playing as a reserve his first two seasons in the league he split time as a starter with Don McNeal during the team’s 1984 Super Bowl season and then locked down the starting role through the 1989 campaign.  At that point the jersey moved to the other side of the ball, when it was first worn by Bobby Humphrey (1992) and Aaron Craver (1994), valuable running backs for the team who both wore the jersey for one season, but for different reasons. Humphrey came to the Dolphins after a pair of 1,000 rushing seasons with the Denver Broncos and was productive his one year in Miami, rushing for 471 yards and leading the team in receptions with 54 catches as the team advanced to the AFC Championship Game, the last time the Dolphins made it that far. But off-field issues derailed his Dolphins career, and he never played another game with the team. Craver, on the other hand, played four years for the Dolphins, but wore three different jersey numbers, including # 44 during the 1994 campaign. Rob Konrad (1999-04) brought the jersey back to the starting lineup, serving as the team’s starting fullback during his Dolphins tenure. A versatile player, Konrad was used more as a blocker and a receiver than as a runner, especially during the years he shared the backfield with Ricky Williams. The jersey number was a special one for Konrad and his alma mater,  Syracuse University. After wearing # 44 at Syracuse, Konrad wanted to continue to wear the jersey in Miami to pay tribute to what the number meant to him and to Syracuse. It was one of the most storied numbers ever associated with a college football program. Three Orangemen who wore it  -   Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, and Floyd Little  -  rank among the finest running backs ever to play the game and all were elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. To show what the number meant to the school’s overall identity, the University zip code was changed from 13210 to 13244 and when the school changed phone systems, the exchange was changed from 423 to 443. Konrad became the first-ever fullback to wear # 44 in Syracuse history, and he ultimately became the last player, period, to don it. The school retired the jersey in 2005 and Konrad joined Brown, Little, Ernie Davis’ mother, and other former # 44s, at the retirement ceremony.

The complete list of Dolphins who have worn #44 includes Jacquess (1966-67); Dick Washington (1968); Dean Brown (1970); Mike Howell (1972); Barry Hill (1975-76); Charles Cornelius (1977-78); Doug Beaudoin (1980); Lankford (1982-91); Humphrey (1992); Craver (1994); Konrad (1999-04); Heath Evans (2005); Cameron Worrell (2007); and Jordan Kovacs (2013).

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Tomorrow: What player who wore #43 still holds the Dolphins record for most receptions by a running back?

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