Dolphins fan profile: Autumn and Tavis Willingham

Autumn and Tavis Willingham pose outside the Pro-Football Hall of Fame - image by Brian Miller
Autumn and Tavis Willingham pose outside the Pro-Football Hall of Fame - image by Brian Miller /
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Autumn and Tavis looking over the Hall of Fame plaza. – Image by Brian Miller
Autumn and Tavis looking over the Hall of Fame plaza. – Image by Brian Miller /

Jason Taylor’s induction wasn’t the first for the Willingham father and daughter duo. They both attended the induction of Dan Marino. Autumn told us that growing up Jason Taylor was her favorite player.

"Autumn: Jason Taylor has been my favorite player growing up. I had been to the Hall before to witness Dan Marino’s induction and that has always been an amazing memory. So when Taylor was officially voted in I knew making the trip to seeing him get one of the highest honors in pro football was a no brainer for me personally."

Football is more often than not a family and friends passion. People of all different backgrounds can often unite with people they have never met over a team they love. It becomes so much more when it is a family that bonds together. I have a very strong football family and I am not the only one.

"Tavis: Going to see Jason Taylor’s induction was my fourth visit to the HOF. The first time was just a visit when I was in Oh. The second time was with my father. I had moved to Pittsburgh and My Father came up. He and I went for Don Shula’s induction. In 1997 the ceremony was still on the steps of the original entrance. He and I stood for the whole ceremony. There were just wooden chairs for spectators at that time. No cost for the ceremony just a cost to get into the HOF. I stood next to Jimmy Cefalo which was a big thrill. And was very close to Coach Shula. The third time was with my whole family, I have three children. And it was in 2005 for Dan Marino’s induction. That was a great visit. To share it with all of my children. I just loved how the HOFer’s were just ‘walking around’. I walked up to Don Strock and got his autograph. Walked up to Dwight Stephenson shook his hand and got a picture with him. Bob Griese passed right by me. And we saw many others such as Roger Staubach and Chris Carter to name a few. We also vividly remember seeing Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor come up to the ceremony specifically to see Dan. This time for Jason it was my daughter Autumn who really wanted to go. So did my other Daughter, Ashley. But Ashley is now a wife and mom and just couldn’t make it. But they are both my Dolphin girls. I am so proud of them and love them dearly. They both love their Fins. I was very happy to share with Autumn a special weekend. It is wonderful that she loves the Fins as much as I do!"

A week before the Jason Taylor induction, the Miami Dolphins asked me what my favorite memory of Jason Taylor was. I told them it had yet to happen. The induction would be my memory. I decided to ask both Tavis and Autumn what their favorite memory was.

"Tavis: My favorite memories of Jason Taylor are of him teamed with Zach Thomas. And the year he won Defensive Player of the year. So many time he looked like the most dominant player during the game. Autumn I:’d have to say watching him get carried off the field on his final game against the Jets. Even though it was the end of his playing career and he was not able to win a championship with the Dolphins I felt as though sending someone as influential to the organization as Taylor off with a win against the Jets and ‘Carried into the sunset’ as some would say was very special. It was great to see the players honor him in that way."