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.
Two unheralded, but very talented, players were among the first Dolphins to wear this number, starting with offensive lineman Doug Crusan (1968-74). When you think of the linemen on the Dolphins three Super Bowl teams from 1971-73, the players who immediately come to mind are Hall of Famers and Pro Bowlers like Larry Little, Jim Langer, Norm Evans, and Bob Kuechenberg. But Crusan played right along with them, starting 26 games at left tackle during those Super Bowl years, not to mention all 28 games the previous two seasons. Lost among the bigger names playing alongside of him, Crusan remains one of the most underrated players in Dolphin history. The other Dolphin player who probably hasn’t received his just due is linebacker/defensive end A.J. Duhe (1977-84). Yes, he had one of the greatest postseason performances ever by a Dolphins player in the AFC Championship game against the New Your Jets in a soggy Orange Bowl on January 23, 1983, when he set an AFC playoff record by intercepting Jets quarterback Richard Todd three times, including one he returned 35 yards for a touchdown in Miami’s 14-0 win. Despite those heroics, for most of his career he was overshadowed by the rest of the “Killer B’s” defense, in part because, unlike most of the other starters, his last name didn’t start with a “B.” To rectify that, (Kim) Bokamper, (Bob) Brudzinski, (Bob) Baumhower, (Doug) Betters and company named Duhe as an honorary Killer B, but he still remains an unsung part of that defense. In fact, when he was named to the Dolphin Walk of Fame in 2012, the overriding theme for many of the inductees that year (Duhe, Earl Morrall, Manny Fernandez, Don Strock, and Tim Bowens) were players who made significant contributions to the team’s success but were overshadowed by their teammates. One player who certainly wasn’t overshadowed was offensive lineman Jake Long (2008-12), who made jersey number #77 a best seller after he was selected with the first overall pick by the Dolphins in the 2008 draft. He was the fourth overall No. 1 selection ever to play for Miami, but he was the first who was actually picked by the Dolphins, since it marked the only time in team history they had the first pick in the draft. Long lived up to that draft status most of his tenure in Miami, starting at left tackle all but two games his first four years in the league and making the Pro Bowl each of those seasons, until injuries derailed his career with the Dolphins.
The complete list of Dolphins who have worn #77 includes Rich Zecher (1966-67); Crusan (1968-74); Duhe (1977-84); *Stanley Scott (1987); Louis Cheek (1988-89); Karl Wilson (1990); Jeff Buckey (1996-98); Damion McIntosh (2004-06); Long (2008-12) and Tyson Clabo (2013).
Tomorrow: Can you name one player who wore # 76?
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