OTD in Dolphins History: Stephenson Inducted Into Hall of Fame

Alain Poupart

Dwight Stephenson never said much during his eight seasons with the Miami Dolphins, but his play spoke volumes.

He was so good, in fact, that he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame despite playing only eight seasons and being a full-time starter for only six. And it was on Aug. 1, 1998 that Stephenson was inducted after being presented by his NFL coach, Don Shula.

Selected to the All-Decade Team of the 1980s and to the NFL 100 all-time team, there's no question that Stephenson was the dominant center in the NFL in his decade of action. Longevity aside, it's hard to think of any center who ever controlled the line of scrimmage the way he did.

Interestingly, Stephenson was selected in the second round of the 1980 draft after the Dolphins had taken his college teammate, Don McNeal, in Round 1.

Stephenson didn't start a game as a rookie and only five in his second season, but when he got into the lineup in 1982, he never looked back.

With Stephenson anchoring the line, the Dolphins provided the protection that helped Dan Marino put up his gaudy passing numbers.

Stephenson was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his final five seasons (1983-87) and was named All-Pro his last four.

His career was cut short when he sustained a knee injury late in the 1987 season as the result of a legal but highly questionable (behind the play) block from, ironically, former college teammate Marty Lyons of the New York Jets.

In typical Stephenson fashion, he said he never held a grudge against Lyons. It still was a shame to have such a brilliant career cut short.

And, make no mistake, Stephenson was special. It's not easu for a center to make a major impact on a team, but that's just what he did.

And on Aug. 1, 1998, his brilliance was recognized.