The Miami Dolphins once were a Hall of Famer's franchise.
Later on Marino.
That sampling of greatness did great things in Miami for the Dolphins.
But starting in the mid 1990s the Dolphins became sort of a franchise that instead of giving birth to Hall of Fame types, added those types in the late stages of their careers. And those HOF types, great credential though they had elsewhere, did not necessarily perform up to Hall of Fame standards in Miami.
Thurman Thomas comes to mind.
Bill Parcells, too.
Well, the Hall of Fame, for which I am among the approximately 50 voters nationwide, on Tuesday night whittled its list of candidates for the 2015 class down to 26 men. And while Zach Thomas, homegrown as a Dolphin, was among those up for consideration and got my vote, he did not make the cut.
Two men who had stints in Miami and, again, did not perform up to Hall of Fame standards here after doing outstanding work elsewhere, did make it to the next round.
Coach Jimmy Johnson made the cut.
Linebacker Junior Seau made the cut.
Johnson, you may recall, was great when he went to the Dallas Cowboys. He rebuilt that organization into a dynasty that won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1992 and 1993 under him and again in 1995 under Barry Switzer. Johnson wasn't there for the third Super Bowl win because he separated from owner Jerry Jones after a fallout, took some time away, and returned to the NFL with the Dolphins in 1996. He had a 36-28 (.562) record in Miami until he quit after the 1999 season.
Johnson added some great talent to the Dolphins: Jason Taylor, Thomas, Sam Madison, Pat Surtain. But he also had some notable misses in his drafts. He never wanted Randy Moss. He selected Yatil Green and John Avery as notable busts. Johnson never won the AFC East but went to the playoffs in 1997, '98 and '99.
Seau was doubtless one of the all-time great linebackers in NFL history. He was often the standard by which other LBs were judged when he was with the San Diego Chargers from 1990-2002. He arrived in Miami in 2003 via trade and, well, never really reached any significant heights. He finished two of his three seasons with the Dolphins on injured reserve.
Yet, Johnson and Seau will go forward in the Hall of Fame process primarily because of accomplishments in places other than Miami.
Zach Thomas, homegrown and outstanding during his time with the Dolphins, may get another chance next year.
The Hall picked 26 seminfinalists and announced them Tuesday night. That list will be pared to 15 in January and from that the next HOF class will be chosen. The list of semifinalists announced Tuesday night:
Morten Andersen, K – 1982-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-2000, 2006-07 Atlanta Falcons, 2001 New York Giants, 2002-03 Kansas City Chiefs, 2004 Minnesota Vikings.
Steve Atwater, S – 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets.
Jerome Bettis, RB – 1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers.
Tim Brown, WR/KR – 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Isaac Bruce, WR – 1994-2007 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 2008-09 San Francisco 49ers.
Don Coryell, Coach – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers.
Roger Craig, RB – 1983-1990 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings.
Terrell Davis, RB – 1995-2001 Denver Broncos.
Tony Dungy, Coach – 1996-2001 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2002-08 Indianapolis Colts.
Kevin Greene, LB/DE – 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996, 1998-99 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers.
Charles Haley, DE/LB – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys.
Marvin Harrison, WR – 1996-2008 Indianapolis Colts.
Torry Holt, WR – 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars.
Joe Jacoby, T – 1981-1993 Washington Redskins.
Edgerrin James, RB – 1999-2005 Indianapolis Colts, 2006-08 Arizona Cardinals, 2009 Seattle Seahawks.
Jimmy Johnson, Coach – 1989-1993 Dallas Cowboys, 1996-99 Miami Dolphins.
Mike Kenn, T – 1978-1994 Atlanta Falcons.
Ty Law, CB – 1995-2004 New England Patriots, 2005, 2008 New York Jets, 2006-07 Kansas City Chiefs, 2009 Denver Broncos.
John Lynch, FS – 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos.
Kevin Mawae, C/G – 1994-97 Seattle Seahawks, 1998-2005 New York Jets, 2006-09 Tennessee Titans.
Karl Mecklenburg, LB – 1983-1994 Denver Broncos.
Orlando Pace, T – 1997-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Chicago Bears.
Junior Seau, LB – 1990-2002 San Diego Chargers, 2003-05 Miami Dolphins, 2006-09 New England Patriots.
Will Shields, G – 1993-2006 Kansas City Chiefs.
Kurt Warner, QB – 1998-2003 St. Louis Rams, 2004 New York Giants, 2005-09 Arizona Cardinals.
Darren Woodson, S – 1992-2003 Dallas Cowboys
The Contributor Finalists are former longtime general managers and team executives Bill Polian and Ron Wolf. Minnesota Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff (1962-1978) is the 2015 Seniors Finalist. Polian, Wolf, and Tingelhoff will be voted on separately and, like all other finalists, must receive 80% positive vote from the full selection committee during the annual selection meeting on January 31, 2015.