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 number is highlighted by three linebackers who played well for the Dolphins but were better known for their performances elsewhere before joining the team, and a current linebacker working to make his mark. The first was Hugh Green (1985-91), who was acquired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1985 in a rare mid-season trade that was one of the costliest in Dolphins history, as Don Shula gave up Miami’s first and second round picks in the 1986 draft to land him. Green was a two-time Pro Bowl with the Bucs and joined the Dolphins amidst high expectations. And while he played well during his six years in Miami, including finishing second on the team in 1989 with 7.5 sacks, he never quite became the dominant linebacker he was during his tenure with the Bucs. The next star to wear the jersey was the great Junior Seau (2003-05) who was traded to the Dolphins from the San Diego Chargers in 2003. Seau, of course, is best remembered for his career with the Chargers, where he became one of the all-time great linebackers in NFL history and will be a sure-fire Hall of Famer when he is eligible for induction. His tenure with the Dolphins started off promisingly enough, as he started all but one game in 2003 and teamed with Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas to form arguably the most accomplished defensive trio in team history. But injuries limited Seau to a total of 15 games the next two years and was released by the Dolphins after the 2005 campaign. Two years later the number was worn by another tough, physical linebacker, Joey Porter (2007-09) who joined the Dolphins as a free agent after a stellar career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. During his time in Pittsburgh, Porter was a four-time Pro Bowl selection, including 2005 when he was a key performer for the Steelers’ Super Bowl XL championship team. The Dolphins paid a lot of money to sign him, and in his first year in Miami he struggled to such an extent that he was viewed by some as a bust. But Porter rebounded in 2008 to put together one of the best seasons ever by a Dolphins defender, leading the AFC with 17.5 sacks (still the third highest single season total in team history) while helping turn Miami around from a 1-15 record in ‘07 to an 11-5 mark and an AFC East title, the last time the Dolphins qualified for the playoffs. For his contributions that season he not only was named to the Pro Bowl, but also became one of only four linebackers to win the team’s Most Valuable Player Award, sharing that honor with quarterback Chad Pennington. The number is now worn by Koa Misi
(2010-current) who has been a starter at linebacker ever since he was drafted by the Dolphins and is one of the most versatile defensive players on the team.
The complete list of Dolphins who have worn #55 includes Jack Rudolph (1966); Randall Edmunds (1968-69); Irv Goode (1973-74); Earnie Rhone (1975-84); Green (1985-91); David Merritt (1993); Chris Singleton (1993-96); Ronnie Ward (1997); Seau (2003-05); Keith Newman (2006); Porter (2007-09); and Misi (2010-13).
Tomorrow: What linebacker who wore # 54 was the only player in Dolphins history to have his first name (and not his last one) embroidered on the back of his game jersey? (Hint – he was a Hall of Famer.)
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