There is less than a month before the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2023 received their bust in Canton, Ohio. One of the nine new enshrines is long-time Miami Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas. That brings the count to 12 primary members of the organization to be enshrined in the Hall.
What other players who spent the vast majority of their careers with the Dolphins deserve a shot a pro football immortality?
5. T Richmond Webb
From 1986-89, Don Shula’s team combined for a 30-33 record and zero playoff appearances in those four seasons. The Miami Dolphins owned the ninth overall pick in the 1990 NFL Draft. The team was looking to upgrade its offensive front and make sure that quarterback Dan Marino would remain out of harm’s way.
Talented Texas A&M offensive tackle Richmond Webb was the Dolphins’ selection and it proved to be a very wise choice.
The 6’6”, 325-pound performer wasted little time making an impression not only on his team but around the National Football League. Webb would earn Pro Bowl honors in each of his first seven NFL campaigns. He started every game for the Dolphins over that stretch with the exception of 1991, when he missed the first two weeks of the season and was limited to only 14 contests. The reliable blocker also earned All-Pro accolades in 1992 and 1994.
Webb’s career with the franchise lasted a total of 11 seasons. He played in 164 games and made 163 starts. The Dolphins qualified for the playoffs seven times over that span and he started all 13 of those postseason games. That included the club’s 23-17 overtime win over the Colts in the 2000 wild card round, the last playoff victory for the franchise.
Webb was off to Cincinnati in 2001 and spent two seasons with the Bengals.
4. SS Dick Anderson
Heady Dick Anderson was one of the best players in the league at his position during the decade of the 1970s. A third-round pick in 1968 from the University of Colorado, the ball-hawking defender spent his entire career with the Dolphins. In nine seasons with the club (he missed all of 1975 with a knee injury), he picked off 34 passes (second-most in franchise history) and totaled 16 fumble recoveries. Anderson would return four of those 50 takeaways for scores.
In Week 12 of 1973 on a Monday night at the Orange Bowl, Anderson put on a show in a clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers. This rematch of the ’72 AFC Championship Game saw the opportunistic defender pick off four passes in the first half, returning two of those interceptions for touchdowns. Both of those feats remain NFL records that have been managed by numerous players. That season, Anderson led the league with eight interceptions and was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
In 11 postseason contests with the Dolphins from 1970-74, including three Super Bowls, Anderson totaled five more picks and two more fumble recoveries. His 62-yard interception return for a score in the team’s 21-0 victory over the then-defending Super Bowl champion Colts was one of the great defensive plays in postseason annals. The nine-year pro was a three-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro.
3. FS Jake Scott
Talk about a great story? Defensive back Jake Scott was a seventh-round pick (159th overall) by the Miami Dolphins in 1970. The University of Georgia product’s pro career actually began a year earlier in the CFL, where he played flanker for the British Columbia Lions, catching 35 passes – three for touchdowns.
The secondary is where Scott belonged. He spent his first six NFL seasons in Miami playing for head coach Don Shula. With the Dolphins, he started all 84 regular-season games. He finished with 35 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries. He was named to five Pro Bowls and earned All-Pro honors twice. In 11 postseason contests with Shula’s club, he totaled seven more takeaways and helped the Dolphins make three straight Super Bowl appearances, the last two resulting in victories.
With two tackles, as well as pair of interceptions of then-Washington Redskins quarterback Billy Kilmer, Scott earned Super Bowl VII Most Valuable Player honors. He became the first defensive back to manage that achievement.
It was off to Washington to join Kilmer and head coach George Allen in 1976. He played three seasons for old D.C. and finished with 14 interceptions and six more fumble recoveries. Scott remains the Dolphins’ all-time interception leader with those aforementioned 35 picks.
2. WR Mark Clayton
It was 40 years ago that the Miami Dolphins used the 27th overall pick in the 1983 draft on quarterback Dan Marino. He put together a Hall of Fame career and was an obvious first-ballot selection for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Of course, the prolific passer didn’t do it all alone. Someone had to catch those precise passes via that incredible quick release. Ironically enough, there was another member of that draft class of 1983 that proved to be quite the target for the talented signal-caller.
University of Louisville wide receiver Mark Clayton lasted until the eighth round that year and would be the 223rd overall selection. He spent 10 seasons with the franchise. He caught a total of 550 passes for 8,643 yards and 81 scores. He teamed with Marino during an electrifying 1984 season saw him total 73 grabs for 1,389 yards (19.0 average) and an NFL-high 18 touchdown receptions.
Clayton also returned a punt return for a touchdown during his rookie season in ’83. To this day, he remains the Dolphins’ all-time leader in receptions and total touchdowns (82).
He totaled at least 1,000 yards receiving in five of those 10 campaigns. Clayton was also named to the Pro Bowl five times. He spent 1993 with the Packers, catching 32 passes for 331 yards and three TDs.
1. G Bob Kuechenberg
He was a stalwart on one of the best offensive fronts in the 1970s. Those legendary well-schooled offensive lines of the Miami Dolphins physically dominated their opponents and paved the way for a relentless ground attack. In 1972, the team became the first to feature a pair of 1,000-yard runners with battering ram Larry Csonka and explosive Mercury Morris.
The Dolphins’ offensive fronts of that era are already represented twice in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in center Jim Langer and guard Larry Little. Is it just a matter of time before there is eventually a bust of guard Bob Kuechenberg in Canton, Ohio?
A fourth-round pick by the Eagles in 1969, he did not play in the NFL that season and signed with the Dolphins in 1970. The ex-Golden Domer spent 14 seasons with Don Shula’s team.He was a six-time Pro Bowler and the versatile performer, who also saw action at tackle, earned All-Pro honors in 1978. The former Notre Dame product also appeared in 19 postseason contests and is a two-time Super Bowl champion.
Kuechenberg was a Hall of Fame finalist for eight straight years from 2002-09. He was also one of 12 finalists by the Senior Committee when it came to the Class of 2023. In each instance, he fell short of the votes needed. Perhaps his time is coming.