There is a sturdy bridge adjoining two of the most accomplished middle linebackers in Miami Dolphins franchise history, and his name is John Offerdahl.
What he accomplished from 1986-93 – post-Nick Buoniconti and pre-Zach Thomas – has landed him a spot on the Dolphins Honor Roll inside Sun Life Stadium that will be unveiled Thursday night. Offerdahl will officially be inducted at halftime of Miami’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and like Thomas before him last year, he is expecting to shed some tears.
“I’ve got my whole family coming out there with me and I’m bringing my mom in. My mom’s going to where my jersey and I’m telling you, that’s going to make me cry a little bit,” said Offerdahl, who was the 1986 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and was named to five consecutive Pro Bowls from 1986-90, at this afternoon’s press conference at Doctors Hospital Training Facility. “But I’ll make sure I close my eyes, so those things are going to be really touching, just to have my family, coaches and the people that have been a big influence in my life. Then obviously when you’re out there in the middle of the field and you see all of the players that were with you or have been part of the organization around you, it means a lot, because they’ve all been there with you sacrificing and kind of doing the battle.”
It’s not an Offerdahl press conference if he doesn’t tell a Don Shula story and he did not disappoint, enticing laughter from the entire room, as he waxed nostalgic. No doubt he has saved one or two more for Thursday night when his adopted home of South Florida showers him with cheers and affection.
The fact that Offerdahl never left the area and grew his restaurant businesses in all three counties – Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach – is not lost on him. That’s why he continues to give back through his Gridiron Grill-Off, which is one week from Saturday on November 9th in Pompano Beach, and he expects to get even more emotional when he sees his name in the stadium and hears those cheers.
“I started our business back in 1990 in the middle of my football career and ever since then we’ve been a part of all three counties,” Offerdahl said. “Since the beginning, since 1986 and all the way to today, I just look at the community as an extension of who we are as a family and the organization as family.”