A California native, Manny Fernandez went undrafted out of the University of Utah, signing with the fledgling Miami Dolphins franchise in 1968 under then head coach, George Wilson. Fernandez was voted the Dolphins Outstanding Defensive Lineman his first five seasons with the team but his game began to raise to another level in 1970 as Don Shula took the helm. He was named a second team Pro Bowl performer that season and again in 1973, when he was also honored as the NFL’s Unsung Player of the Year. As consistent as he was throughout his eight-year career, it was the Super Bowl that brought the best out of him. During the Dolphins’ three consecutive Super Bowl appearances, Fernandez tallied 28 tackles and three sacks, including a 17 tackle, 1 sack performance in Super Bowl VII that many felt was worthy of the game’s MVP rather than Fins safety, Jake Scott. In 2014, Yahoo! Sports ranked him as the 10 th best player in Super Bowl history. In The Tank, Manny discussed his less than ideal relationship with his coach at Utah, revealed his reason for choosing Miami over two other teams interested in him out of college and recalled the dramatic change in Miami, as Don Shula’s incredibly tough but highly effective style would change the franchise forever. Manny also shared the true story behind the legend of the alligator that turned up in the iconic coach’s shower, the reason why a mysterious illness not only nearly caused him to miss his enshrinement in the Dolphins Honor Roll, but almost cost him his life, and explained why Zach Thomas may never go hunting with him again.
For the past 30 years, Dave Hyde has covered sports for the South Florida Sun Sentinel, providing perspective on everything from Little League Baseball to Dwyane Wade lead championship runs with the Miami Heat, and of course, Miami Dolphins football. This year, Hyde was named one of the top 10 sports columnists in the nation by the Associated Press Sports Editors, his 16 th time receiving this recognition. He has also authored two books, including “Still Perfect!: The Untold Story of the 1972 Miami Dolphins." In The Tank, Dave discusses the early days of his sports writing career, standing up to coaching giant Don Shula, breaking Jimmy Johnson’s spirit in an unlikely way, and being greeted in the Dolphins locker room by a NSFW message from former Fins linebacker, Bryan Cox.
The Miami Dolphins had high hopes for Richmond Webb when they selected him out of Texas A&M with the ninth overall pick of the 1990 draft and the left tackle not only met, but greatly exceeded all expectations. Charged with protecting Dan Marino’s blindside, Webb was an instant starter on the Dolphins offensive line. He played every offensive snap during his rookie year, only giving up two sacks and instantly proving he could go toe-to-toe with divisional rival, Bruce Smith. Webb was so dominant that he was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven seasons, landing a spot on the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. In The Tank, Richmond reveals the great advice he was given by Buddy Ryan at the Senior Bowl, vividly recalls getting sensitive after being taken to task by Dolphins coaching icon Don Shula, shares why he and guard Keith Sims were such a formidable duo, and provides an in the huddle perspective on the greatness of Dan Marino.
One of the more outspoken and boisterous players to don a Dolphins uniform in the past 25 years, Ray Lucas’ story always comes back to his native Harrison, New Jersey. A heavily recruited high school athlete, Lucas turned away the suitors to stay home and attend Rutgers University. From 1992-95, Lucas became one of the most prolific Scarlet Knights signal callers in school history, ultimately being inducted in the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017. Despite his success in college, however, Lucas went undrafted in 1996, eventually signing with the New England Patriots as a free agent and beginning his NFL career as a wide receiver and on special teams. After one season with the Patriots, Lucas followed Bill Parcells to the New York Jets where he moved back into the quarterback room. In 1999, replacing an injured Vinny Testaverde, Ray finally got his shot under center, winning 6 of his 8 starts to lead the struggling Jets to an 8-8 finish. In 2001, Lucas joined the Dolphins where he backed up starter Jay Fiedler for two seasons and quickly became a popular personality in the Miami locker room. In The Tank, Ray discusses his love for all things New Jersey, his experiences with the Dolphins-Jets rivalry from both sides of the fence, his fondness for his Dolphins teammates, and his appreciation for current Fins Head Coach Brian Flores. He also candidly details his struggles with a pain killer addition that nearly cost him his life.
A two-sport athlete at Dartmouth College, Jay Fiedler set school records for touchdown passes (58), passing yards (6,684), and total offense (7,249) with the Ivy League program while receiving his degree in Mechanical Engineering. His National Football League journey didn’t start quite as smoothly, however, with a five-year quest featuring stints with four different NFL teams, a stop in NFL Europe, and a coaching gig at Hofstra University before signing with the Miami Dolphins prior to the 2000 season. Fiedler battled Damon Huard for the starting quarterback position and ultimately became the successor to Dolphins icon, Dan Marino. Helping to lead the Fins to back-to-back 11-5 seasons in his first two years under center, Fiedler was 36-17 in his first four years with the club. He is also the last Dolphins starting quarterback to win a playoff game. In The Tank, Jay details his unlikely path to Miami, recalls the talented Dolphins squad of the early 2000s, and sheds some light on working with then, and current, offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey. He also shares some of the benefits of being a Jewish quarterback in Miami and reveals his little known connection to current Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores.
Larry Izzo overcame long odds as an undersized linebacker from Rice University who landed an opportunity as an undrafted free agent with Jimmy Johnson’s Miami Dolphins in 1996. Izzo not only made the roster that year, but he quickly became a fan favorite and leader of the Dolphins special teams unit over the course of his five-year tenure in South Florida, culminating that run with a Pro Bowl selection following the 2000 season. Free Agency led Izzo to New England in 2001 and he never skipped a beat, earning two more Pro Bowl births and three Super Bowl titles on his way to becoming one of the most prolific special teams performers in league history. His 298 career special teams tackles registered over the course of his 14 seasons are the most in NFL annals. In The Tank, Izzo discusses his unlikely path to Miami, becoming the first player not named Dan Marino to make the Dolphins roster during Johnson’s inaugural campaign, his life-long friendship with Dolphins legend Zach Thomas, and a moment where he and O.J. did not see eye-to-eye. Larry also shares his passion for highbrow films, several examples of how he never backs down from a challenge, and he vividly recalls a time where his unique skill set resulted in a feat Bill Belichick had never witnessed before.
The decorated football career of Ricky Williams is the stuff of legend, featuring an NCAA career rushing record, the 1998 Heisman Trophy, becoming the first player ever to represent a National Football League team’s entire draft class in 1999, and an NFL rushing title in 2002. It is Williams’s enigmatic personality, however, that has often stood out even more than his gridiron greatness. The combination of the two endeared Williams to Miami Dolphins fans around the world when the team brought him to South Florida through a 2002 trade with the New Orleans Saints, and resulted in confusion, hurt, and outrage upon his unexpected but temporary retirement from football just days before the 2004 season. Diving in The Tank for the first time ever, Ricky fondly recalls his years as a Dolphin, particularly his prolific first two seasons. He candidly details the decisions behind his retirement (including a surprising assist from an unlikely source), his conversations with then Dolphins Head Coach Dave Wannstedt, and how meaningful and self-healing his time away from football was. Ricky also covers his respect for Nick Saban, his special friendship with fellow Fins rusher Ronnie Brown, and of course talks the Wild Cat from his perspective.
There simply aren’t enough words to describe the magnitude of Don Shula’s impact on the Miami Dolphins, South Florida, and the entire National Football League, but leave it to The Fish Tank to give it a shot. As no single individual has been discussed more in The Tank, Juice and Seth look back on some of their favorite stories ever told about the winningest coach in NFL history. From members of the perfect 1972 Dolphins including Larry Csonka, Manny Fernandez, Larry Little, Mercury Morris, and Larry Seiple to former equipment managers Bobby Monica and Tony Egues, this tribute to Coach Shula features tough talk, heavy laughs, and of course, the winning edge. Others making an appearance in this tribute are All-Pro Richmond Webb, cornerback William Judson, Security Chief Stu Weinstein, and PR Man Harvey Greene, as well as heartfelt commentary from our very own O.J. McDuffie.