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.
Some pretty productive receivers have worn this jersey, starting with original Dolphins player Howard Twilley (1966-76), who wound up playing longer in in Miami than any other member of that inaugural team. His biggest career catch came in Super Bowl VII, when he hauled in a 28-yard TD toss from Bob Griese to give the Dolphins a 7-0 lead in the game. As a measure of his consistency during his 11-year career in Miami, Twilley never led the Dolphins in receptions or receiving yardage in any of his seasons with the team, but at the time he retired he was the club’s second all-time career leader in both categories. Two years later Jimmy Cefalo (1978-84) began his seven-year run wearing #81. Like Twilley he had a productive career, including the 1981 season when he caught 29 passes for 631 yards. He was a member of two Super Bowl teams, and in Super Bowl XVII against the Washington Redskins he caught a 76-yard touchdown pass from David Woodley, which at the time was the second-longest reception in Super Bowl history. Cefalo continues his association with the Dolphins to this day, currently serving as the team’s popular radio play-by-play broadcaster. Number 81 later was worn for 14 years by two Dolphins record breakers, O.J. McDuffie (1993-01) and Randy McMichael (2002-06). McDuffie ranks fourth on the team’s all-time reception list and is fifth in reception yardage. He led the team in catches for three straight seasons, and his 90 catches in 1998 not only still stands as the team’s single season reception record, but also remains the only time a Dolphins player ever led the NFL in catches. McMichael proved to be the most productive tight end in team history, finishing with 283 catches for 3096 yards, the highest career totals in those categories by any Dolphins TE. In addition, his 73 catches and 791 yards in 2004 remain as the highest single season figures by a Dolphins tight end, although Charles Clay
made a run at those records last year.
The complete list of Dolphins who have worn #81 includes Twilley (1966-76); Ike Hill (1976); Cefalo (1978-84); *Mike Caterbone (1987); Scott Schwedes (1987-90); Randal Hill (1991); James Pruitt (1991); Robert Clark (1992); McDuffie (1993-01); McMichael (2002-06); Joey Haynos (2008-10); Dedrick Epps (2010) and Dante Rosario (2011).
Tomorrow: What player who wore # 80 won Super Bowl championship rings under Vince Lombardi and Don Shula? Bonus question: What player who also wore this jersey caught Dan Marino’s first career touchdown pass?
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