Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Worst Trade in Miami Dolphins History, Part III

Here’s two of the Herald’s Dishonorable Mention Trades:


Jackie Shipp. A bust of the highest order. In fact, his selection marked the start of a string of post-Marino 1st-round disasters for the Fins. How bad was Shipp? He was so bad that…Ah, who cares? He sucked. The question here is, Was trading up to get the 14th pick a bad deal? To do it the Fins gave up two 3rd rounder to the Bills. The Bills picked Sean McNanie and Speedy Neal, two losers. Would Miami have done any better if they had kept those picks? Who knows? I’ll say this, if you use their entire all-bust 1984 draft as your signpost, the Magic Eight Ball says, “All signs point to No!” I don’t think losing two 3rd rounders is that big a sacrifice anyway. The Herald points out that had Miami just stayed at 26, they could have picked the player the Bills ended up with: RB Greg Bell. Bell was a good player as it turned out. He gave the Bills two good years, got hurt and missed most of the next two, then had two great years for the Rams before flaming out with the Raiders. Not the greatest career but compared to the backs Miami was running out there in the Eighties he was like Jim Brown, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders rolled into one. Yeah, getting Bell instead of Shipp would have been the way to go.

BUT, Miami NEVER would have picked Bell even if they hadn’t made that trade. Never I tell you! Why? ‘Cause Shula wanted linebackers real real bad that year. Not only did he take Shipp in Round One, he drafted LB Jay Brophy in Round Two. If Miami stayed put and Shipp was gone by the 26th spot, MIA would have just taken another linebacker there. Probably Mike Guendling (who went 33rd), or Scott Radecic (34th), or Thomas Benson (36th), or Ed Williams (43rd), or Ron Rivera (44th). I’m sure you’ve heard of all those guys. (Rivera had a good career). Why did the Dolphins need linebackers so bad you ask? Well, the year before their fine LB Larry Gordon died from a heart attack. A tremendous blow obviously compounded by the fact that another fine Dolphins LB, Rusty Chambers, died in a car accident two years earlier. So Miami was incredibly weak at the linebacker position by the time of the 1984 draft and that’s where Shula’s focus rightfully was (and watch Super Bowl XIX again sometime to see the marvelous results of that focus).

Wouldn’t they at least have considered Bell if Shipp was gone? No, they would not have. How can I know this? Because Miami was already set at running back. Miami drafted David Overstreet in the 1st round back in 1981. Joe Robbie, Dolphins owner and notorious cheapskate, not necessarily in that order, wouldn’t pay Overstreet what he wanted back then so Dave booked for the greener pastures of the Canadian Football League. He was rookie of the year there in 1981, but got hurt in 1982. He returned home in 1983 and played very well for the Fins in limited action: 392 yards on only 85 carries. Shula promised him the starter’s job in 1984. So as of May 1, 1984, Draft Day, Miami’s offense was all set. The first full season for both the great Dan Marino and David Overstreet. As she usually does however, Fate had other plans for the Dolphins. On June 25, 1984, 55 days after the draft, David Overstreet died in a car wreck. He fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into some gas tanks that exploded on impact. RIP David. You too Larry and Rusty.

So, Shipp--a bad pick, but I’m pretty sure that even if they don’t make that trade Miami winds up with a different lousy linebacker. Losing two third-rounders aren’t enough to make this a contender for worst trade ever.


In no way shape or form was this a bad trade. Israel Gutierrez says the Dolphins "still had Bob Griese for another four years, but it couldn't have hurt to have a Theismann, whom the team drafted in 1971 before he went to the CFL." Actually, the Dolphins still had Griese for another six years. Miami got Washington's 1976 first-rounder but they dealt Theisman in 1974. Sure it probably wouldn't have hurt to have Joe T around (unless you had to listen to him. Dude is really annoying), but who needed him? He wasn't as good as Griese. And Miami got Marino in 1983, just three years after Griese's career ended. So, assuming Miami still gets Marino in an alternate "keeping Theisman" world, we only would have used Theisman from 1980-1982, the David Woodley years. They could have used Theisman then but of all the bad trades discussed so far, this is the only one where Miami came out with something positive. They used the Skins number one pick to take Larry Gordon. Gordon was a hell of a player for seven years. He won the team's Outstanding Linebacker award in the late 70s and was named to the Dolphins' Silver Anniversary team. He was still a good player up to the time he dropped dead of heart disease while jogging at age 28.

There's only one way you could say trading away the Theis was a bad move. Miami won a division title in 1981 and made the Super Bowl in 1982. They had an excellent team. Their biggest weak spot was quarterback. Woodley just wasn't cut out for the job and his worthless play in Super Bowl XVII definitely cost Miami the game. If Miami had Theisman, who was one of the best QB's in the league from 1982-1984, one would have to say their chance at winning it all in 1982 would have been excellent. Espeically when considering that the team that beat them in 1982, the Redskins, wouldn't have had Theisman. So maybe cutting Theisman loose in 1974 cost Miami a championship eight years later. Of course, if Miami wins in 1982 maybe they don't draft Marino. (And maybe Washington would have drafted him). Clearly this is all Speculation City. In the end we didn't need Theisman. We got Gordon. He played great. The trade paid off. Not the worst trade ever.

The Worst Trade in Miami Dolphins' History:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Addendum: The Marlin Briscoe Trade

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