On Sunday, the Miami Dolphins will add Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor to their “Ring of Honor”. The duo spent most of their NFL careers playing side by side with the Dolphins before moving on later in their careers to play elsewhere. Both victims of a Bill Parcells over inflated ego.
Thomas was unceremoniously dumped in Parcells 2008 off-season shortly after the 2007 campaign with Cam Cameron came to a close. An image of Thomas leaving the facility and then taking a parking sign from the players lot was plastered around the internet leading to speculation that he was released. Shortly thereafter the team made a rather quiet announcement akin to letting go of a practice squad player.
In other words, no fond farewell. No “Thomas was a great player for this organization”. Just a simple, Zach Thomas has been released.
A few weeks later, Jason Taylor was traded to the Washington Redskins after he and Bill Parcells failed to see eye to eye on a myriad of issues. Including Taylor’s stint on “Dancing with the Stars”. Taylor would spend one year with the Skins before coming back to Miami on a one year deal and then bolting to the New York Jets where he made many Miami fans irate. His one year stint with NY netted him no Super Bowl victory and he rejoined the Dolphins in the 2011 season to wrap his career. In his final game on his final defensive play, Taylor intercepted a pass and ran into the endzone. The TD was called back and Taylor ended his long storied career lining up on the offense and taking the final snap in a Dolphins victory formation.
While Zach Thomas took to his hometown Dallas Cowboys and then the K.C. Chiefs until concussions ended his attempts to continue playing, the Dolphins found history to be an important part of their future. Bill Parcells’ exit from Miami allowed the Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland and CEO Mike Dee to bring Thomas back for a proper send-off. Thomas signed a retirement deal and stood at a podium and said his good-bye’s to the Miami fan base prior to last years Jason Taylor swan song.
This Sunday, the Dolphins will honor both men when they bring them back at half-time to formally enshrine their names forever into the wall of fame. With these two men, the Dolphins will lose the last two stars from a decade long roster built with no-names, never-were’s, and never will-be’s. Taylor and Thomas represent the last great Miami Dolphin players deserving of a place in that ring of honor.
Many fans will point to names from the 70′s and 80′s who still have yet to be acknowledged with the honor and later this year former DC Bill Arnsparger will get his name on the ring, but Taylor and Thomas represent an entire generation of Dolphins fans who didn’t see Dan Marino or Larry Csonka play. They represent more of the present than any other single player. In the years to come as the team ponders names to add, a logical void of players from the start of Jimmy Johnson’s three and out through Cam Cameron’s 1 and done will be left off that list. Taylor and Thomas now represent that era and stand for the top of what was good about those teams.
One year apart entering the league, one year apart leaving the league. Brothers on the field, brother-in-laws off of it, it’s only fitting that they take their bow together this Sunday.