Written by Luis Sung | Twitter: @FLSportDebater
There are some names in Miami Dolphins history that even the most casual fans should know. The most obvious of these examples is Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, who was arguably the best passer in all of NFL history. Other names include fullback Larry Csonka, who was an indispensable cog during the Dolphins glory years in the early 70s.
The list goes on from there: Mark Duper, Mark Clayton, Larry Little, Bob Griese just to name a few. All of these aforementioned Dolphins alumni have been placed in Dolphins history as the most prestigious and legendary members of the organization throughout the organization's existence, and now another name will officially join their honored ranks on December 21st when the Dolphins face the Vikings: former defensive tackle and Super Bowl Champion Manny Fernandez.
Nat Moore, the Dolphins Senior Vice President/Special Projects and Alumni Relations, came to the podium and spoke about Fernandez and how much of an impact he had on him when he arrived in Miami.
"He's not just a great player," Moore said. "He was a mentor to me when I first came into the league in 1974. Both he and Bill Stanfill bought me my first meal and taught me what it meant to be a professional, how to wear the Dolphins logo properly."
An undrafted free agent out of Utah, Fernandez almost immediately became one of the Dolphins top defensive players, becoming one of the members of the famous No-Name Defense that ravaged the NFL for years. Of course, the story of Fernandez's signing with the Dolphins comes with an interesting story which got everyone laughing.
"Funny story," Moore chuckled. "Even when they signed him as a free agent, it was a move looking at the diverse culture of South Florida, knowing that we needed a Hispanic on our football team. What they didn't know was he doesn't speak a word of Spanish even though his last name was Fernandez."
When Fernandez took his turn at the podium, he joked about how it had taken forever for him to get to this point, and how it took his friend Nat Moore taking over the alumni to receive the honor. While Fernandez may have been joking however, it really is true that it was past the time for the Dolphins to give him this honor.
Fernandez spent his entire eight year NFL career with the Miami Dolphins, which lasted from 1968 to 1975, and made 93 starts out of the 105 games he played with them. One of the greatest pass-rushing defensive tackles in team history, Fernandez gained 35 sacks over the course of his career, putting him behind only his fellow Honor Roll member Bob Baumhower who has 39.5.
Perhaps the greatest moment of his career came in Super Bowl VII, when he made a colossal 17 tackles, something almost unheard of in today's NFL. He was given serious consideration for MVP honors that day, but in the end it went to Jake Scott, and that doesn't bother him one bit.
"That didn't matter. It didn't matter then, doesn't matter now. We won, and it's a team sport." Fernandez said. "Jake was a good friend then, and he's still a good friend and he had a heck of a game too."
That kind of attitude is another reason why Fernandez is so respected by the organization, as well as his former teammates. He was always a team player, and he was always willing to do whatever it took to help the team rather than look out for his own numbers and standing.
There's so much more to say about Fernandez and I could honestly listen to him talk about his days in the NFL for hours. These alumni are all amazing parts of Dolphins history, and despite his joking manner, it really is about time Fernandez was given the credit he deserved all throughout his career and beyond.