A jersey with a checkered past, this number really hasn’t found a home in Dolphins history. A host of players wore the jersey for some limited starts for the first 33 years of the club’s existence, with the most notable being defensive tackle Mike Charles, who started 27 games from 1983 through 1986, including 15 contests in 1985. (One ancillary tale about Charles – Don Shula thought Dan Marino would be long gone by the time they picked 27th in the first round of the 1983 draft, and so targeted Charles as the team’s first round selection. Much to Shula’s surprise, Marino was still on the board when it came time for the Dolphins to make their pick, and they didn’t waste any time drafting the future Hall of Famer. But if Marino had been off the board by the time the Dolphins made their pick, they were going to draft Charles.) The jersey finally found its way to a starting player when right tackle Todd Wade (2000-03) wore the number for his four seasons with the team, starting all but one game during that span. Wade joined the Dolphins as a second round draft pick in 2000 and was named to the NFL All-Rookie team that season. He continued to play well during his tenure in Miami; in three out of his four seasons with the Dolphins they had a running back (Lamar Smith and Ricky Williams) gain at least 1,000 yards rushing, with Williams churning out a club record 1,853 yards rushing in 2003. Wade was a dependable player whose absence was missed after he signed with the Houston Texans as a free agent in 2004. That also was the last time a solid starter wore # 73, with players such as Marc Colombo (2011) and Jonathan Martin (2012-13) following Wade as starting offensive linemen for the Dolphins but not achieving anywhere near the same kind of success.
The complete list of Dolphins who have worn #71 includes Charlie Fowler (1967-68); John Boynton (1969); Frank Cornish (1970-71); Darryl Carlton (1975-76); Mike Current (1977-79); Burton Lawless (1981); Mike Charles (1983-86); *Scott Kehoe (1987); Bob Gruber (1987); Ethan Albright (1995); Dunstan Anderson (1997); Todd Wade (2000-03); Tonui Fonoti (2006); Cory Lekkerkerker (2007); Lionel Dotson (2008-09); Cory Procter (2010); Marc Colombo (2011) and Jonathan Martin (2012-13).
Tomorrow: What starting Dolphin defender who wore # 70 was well on his way to establishing himself as a key member of the “No-Name” defense before a knee injury prematurely ended both his career and his visibility as part of that group? Bonus question: The number also was worn by a player who was one of only two Dolphin defenders (along with John Offerdahl) to make a Pro Bowl appearance over a five-year span (1985-89). Who was he?
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