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.
The initial history of this jersey was dominated by tight ends, starting with Marv Fleming (1970-74), who started all but four games at that position during the Dolphins’ three-year Super Bowl run. He also was a tight end on the Green Bay Packers’ teams that won Super Bowls I and II, becoming the first player in NFL history to play in five Super Bowls and also the only one to win Super Bowl championship rings under Vince Lombardi and Don Shula. The next standout TE to wear the jersey was Joe Rose (1980-85). He had a productive career with the Dolphins, but is probably best known for two other reasons – he caught Dan Marino’s first career touchdown pass (a six-yard reception on September 19, 1983 at the Los Angeles Raiders), and for his long-time service as a Dolphins’ analyst on the team’s radio broadcast. Ferrell Edmunds (1998-92) also played well at the tight end position and holds the team record for the longest reception by a TE, an 80-yard TD catch from Dan Marino on Nov. 27, 1988 at the New York Jets. The most recent tight end to play well wearing this number was Anthony Fasano (2008-12), who was a good blocker but underrated as a receiver. He recorded over 30 catches and 300 yards in each of his seasons in Miami, and his seven touchdown receptions in 2008 remains tied for the most ever in a single season by a Dolphins tight end. Sandwiched between Rose and Fasano, though, were some pretty good wide receivers, starting with one of the best trade acquisitions the Dolphins ever made – Irving Fryar (1993-95). Acquired for a second and a third round pick from the New England Patriots, Fryar posted consecutive seasons of 1,000 yards in receptions in his first two years in Miami (making the Pro Bowl both times), and was over 900 yards in this third year with the team. He also was one of the four players in Dolphins history every to be the first overall selection in the college draft (by the Patriots in 1984). A few years later Tony Martin (1999-00) returned to the Dolphins for his second tour of duty with the team, wearing # 80 this time instead of # 89 that he wore earlier in Miami. Martin responded with 67 catches for 1,037 yards in 1999, finally living up to the promise as a Dolphins player he flashed during his earlier stint with the team. Martin was followed by James McKnight (2001-03), who tied for the team lead in receptions his first season with the Dolphins. One of the saddest stories in Dolphins history involves the player who wore # 80 after McKnight – David Boston (2004-05). Boston had a monster year in 2001 with the Arizona Cardinals, recording 98 catches and 1,598 yards, and was coming off a 70-reception, 880-yard season in San Diego in 2003 when Miami acquired him from the Chargers for cornerback Jamar Fletcher and a sixth round draft pick. He joined the Dolphins amidst high hopes, but tore ligaments in his left knee during a preseason practice against the Houston Texans and was never the same player again. He missed the entire 2004 season and played in five games for Miami in 2005 before tearing knee ligaments again, ending his NFL career.
The complete list of Dolphins who have worn #80 includes Ed Cooke (1966-67); Bob Joswick (1968-69); Fleming (1970-74); Jim McFarland (1975); Loaird McCreary (1976-78); Joe Rose (1980-85); *Lawrence Sampleton (1987); Ferrell Edmunds (1988-92); Fryar (1993-95); Fred Barnett (1996-97); Brett Perriman (1997); Kirby Dar Dar (1998); Horace Copeland (1998); Iheanyi Uwaezuoke (1998); Martin (1999-00); McKnight (2001-03); Boston (2004-05); Aaron Halterman (2007); Fasano (2008-12) and Dion Sims (2013).
Tomorrow: What player who wore #79 spent his Dolphins career starting at defensive end opposite Jason Taylor?
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