Miami Dolphins At 50: 1996-99
By Brian Miller
We continue our look at the 199o’s for the Miami Dolphins. Frankly at over 1,700 words and counting the first half of the 1990’s took up a lot of space. We are going to cover the last half of the decade in this article and in case you missed the first half, you should check it out here. A lot changes occurred in the first half of the 1990’s, mostly with ownership, stadium, and practice facilities. As the decade comes to a close, we will see the biggest changes ever in the history of the Miami Dolphins on the field.
The departures of Jim Kiick, Paul Warfield, and Larry Csonka hurt the teams chances to return for a 4th consecutive Super Bowl and their leaving for the WFL changed how the Dolphins played football, at the end of the 90’s two changes would leave holes that to this day the Dolphins may not have fixed.
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The 1990’s started off with the loss of founding father Joe Robbie, 1996 starts off with the retirement of Don Shula. Shula would assume other roles within the organization including Chairman of the Board of Directors. A lot of rumors swirl around Shula’s departure most of which are centered on Shula being asked to resign in order for the Dolphins to hire former Miami U and Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson. Shula finishes his coaching career with 347 wins, an all-time record to this day, 173 losses and six ties. He coached in the NFL for 33 seasons, 26 with Miami. He coached the Baltimore Colts to Super Bowl III, the Miami Dolphins to Super Bowls V, VI, and VIII as well as two more in the 1980’s.
Jimmy Johnson as rumored becomes the Dolphins 3rd head coach in history signing a four year contract.
Wayne Huizenga shuffles the Dolphins management structure moving Eddie Jones to COO and making Jimmy Johnson the teams new GM
The Dolphins’ Jimmy Johnson begins hiring his own coaches
Dan Marino signs a three year extension
Wayne Huizenga sells the naming rights for Joe Robbie Stadium to Pro-Player Park on a 10 year agreement that averages $2 million a season.
In Jimmy Johnsons debut the Dolphins beat the Patriots 24-10 at the new Pro-Player Park
The Stadium is renamed Pro-Player Stadium instead of Park
Dan Marino plays in his 191st game breaking the previous team record held by Bob Kuechenberg.
Dan Marino throws a completion to O.J. McDuffie for 36 yards putting Marino over 50,000 yards in his career. He is the first quarterback to reach 50,000.
Don Shula is enshrined in the teams Ring of Honor
Aug 3, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; Miami Dolphins former coach Don Shula at the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Dolphins unveil their first major change in logo design in team history. The hash-marks are gone from the sun-burst and the dolphin becomes more cartoonish. A navy stripe is added to the underbelly of the dolphin and the eye is far more distinct.
Don Shula is elected to the Pro-Football Hall of Fame
The Dolphins announce and unveil their first ever “mascot”. On June 4th the name T.D. is announced as his name.
Don Shula is officially a member of the Pro-Football Hall of Fame. His enshrinement in Canton brings 33 years of head coaching to a full circle.
The Dolphins win their 300th game in franchise history as the team beats the K.C. Chiefs 17-14
The Dolphins enter into a final season match against the New England Patriots. Winner takes the East and loser is a wild card. Tackle Richmond Webb starts his 101st consecutive game, a team record. The Dolphins lose to the Patriots and will travel the next week to Foxboro for the first round of the playoffs. The Dolphins would lose.