It all started in 1966 when the Miami Dolphins became an official part of the American Football League (AFL). The team was founded by actor/comedian Danny Thomas, a TV star of the ’50s and ’60s but now known as the founder of the St Jude Children's Research Hospital, and Joe Robbie, whose name might sound familiar if you remember the stadium was named after him for a time. Joe Robbie Stadium (which has endured many name changes, is now known as Hard Rock Stadium) replaced the old Orange Bowl.
The Orange Bowl was where it all began. Back in 1973, the support from fans was of die-hard proportions. In that year, the fans themselves set a record with season ticket sales of 74,961. But Robbie wanted a better stadium, which is when Joe Robbie Stadium was built. It was opened in 1987 and served as the place for Super Bowl XXIII in 1989. This stadium also hosted Super Bowl games in 1995, 1999, 2007, 2010, and 2020.
George Wilson was the first coach, but the failures of those early years before the AFL merging with the NFL were not in vain. Wilson’s four-year record of 15–39--2 was replaced with Don Shula, formerly of the 1969 Super Bowl runner-up, Baltimore Colts, and the most successful head coach in professional football history in 1970. Shula was the breath of fresh air the team needed, turning them from the 1969 season under Wilson into a playoff team. It wasn’t hard, for, in the years before Shula took over, the Dolphins were gaining some steady talent. There was Bob Griese, the quarterback in 1967; Larry Csonka, the running back in 1968; and Larry Little as a guard in 1969.
This combination of a new coach and finely-tuned players set into motion the future success of the Miami Dolphins. In fact, this team has one of the most distinguished honors of any football team in the NFL. In 1972, it was the only team ever, still to this date, that had a completely undefeated season.
The Miami Dolphins Over Time
Shula got the team to the playoffs in all of his first 5 seasons, which included their first Super Bowl appearance, Super Bowl VI in 1972. While they lost to the Dallas Cowboys 24 - 3, it was still an impressive accomplishment for the team.
The following year, the Dolphins completed the NFL's only perfect 17 - 0 season, winning all 14 of their regular-season games, and all three of their playoff games, including Super Bowl VII.
The following season, they returned again to the Super Bowl, making them the first NFL franchise to attend 3 consecutive Super Bowls. The Dolphins wound up beating the Minnesota Vikings at 24-7.
The Dolphins often fielded competitive teams throughout the remainder of the 1970s, but they did not appear in another Super Bowl during the decade.
The 1980s weren’t a bleak time for the Dolphins, either. In 1983, they drafted quarterback Dan Marino. Marino set major passing records and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. In 1984, Marino threw 48 touchdown passes, which at the time, was a record. Along with receivers Mark Clayton and Mark Duper, who were affectionately dubbed the “Marks Brothers,” the team was well-poised. During the regular season, they were a huge success. However, when they made it to the Super Bowl in 1985, it was a 38-16 loss to the Joe Montana-led San Francisco 49ers.
Modern-Day Miami Dolphins
Most Dolphins fans love to talk about the good old days, when Shula was coach when their star players ran the field, and when they had a solid track record. Still, they have a solid following that continues, despite the sense of flailing the team has had in more recent years.
In the 2000s, the Dolphins had a 1-15 season, the absolute worst in franchise history to date. They almost became the first 0-16 team in NFL history. Focusing on the negatives wouldn’t be entirely fair to this team, though, that still holds the only record for a completely undefeated year from the 1970s.
They managed to make the playoffs 3 times in the 2000s, though it was challenging because there was no consistent quarterback that could replace Marino. The team went through 13 quarterbacks and a total of 5 head coaches. Despite this upheaval, they had some notable wins in 2004, 2008, 2014, 2018, and 2019.
Stability was most assuredly provided through quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but of course, they let him go. Much of what the Dolphins have shown has been on the less than the mediocre side. They’ve only made the playoffs once during the 2010s.
Hope is not lost for die-hard Dol-fans though. With the new decade coming in, and a new quarterback, there are possibilities that the Dolphins could go on to do great things. After all, they’re due for it. There’s a reason that even people who move away from Florida still have loyalty to the Dolphins. Maybe it’s Shula. Perhaps it’s Robbie. Possibly it’s Marino and the countless other stellar players that have risen to the limelight in the sport from this team. Or maybe it’s a love for Miami the city and that they’re gluttons for punishment, something that brings everyone locally together.
With courteous and knowledgeable chauffeurs, combined with the best Hard Rock Stadium charter bus rental in the business, all aligned to bring you an experience to remember. And this is the very reason our loyal clientele return to us time and time again.