The Miami Dolphins have had only one running back turn into a Hall of Famer, making the number one choice on this list easy. Rounding out the other two choices were a bit more difficult, with credence to an old-tier given deliberation along with a newer name to the record books.
Here are the three best running backs in the history of the Dolphins franchise.
3. Mercury Morris (1969-75)
The first running back on this list to be a part of the repeating Super Bowl champion Dolphins in the early 1970’s, Mercury Morris was a three-time Pro Bowler with Miami, spending seven seasons with the franchise after the team selected him out of West Texas A&M University in the third round of the 1969 NFL Draft.
Morris, at 5-foot-10, led the league in rushing touchdowns (12) during the 1972 NFL campaign, tallying 1,000 yards that year, too.
Morris left the franchise in 1976, playing for the then-San Diego Chargers, and then retired. He also found criminal troubles in his personal life, spending three years in prison due to drug chargers, later released in the 1980’s. Morris’ contributions to the Dolphins were not forgotten, though, as the running back was included in fans and media’s “Miami Dolphins 50 Greatest Players” survey five years ago as one of five backs mentioned.
Morris is the Dolphins’ fourth leader in rushing yards and possesses the fifth-most rushing touchdowns.
2. Ricky Williams (2002-10)
Ricky Williams is the recent addition to this list, with the former Heisman Trophy winner with Texas arriving via the New Orleans Saints in a 2002 trade.
Williams’ up-and-down professional career is well-documented. After his first stint with the Dolphins, including a Pro Bowl appearance and All-Pro First Team selection where he led the league in rushing yards (1,853) and rushing yards per game (115.8), Williams retired amidst multiple failed drug tests, spending a year away from the game. He returned in 2005, first serving a four-game suspension levied from his previous drug-test violations, before missing the entire 2006 campaign for a season-long suspension.
After a CFL detour, Williams spent four more seasons with the Dolphins, including posting a season with over 1,100 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in 2009.
Williams joined the Baltimore Ravens as a free agent in 2011, retiring after the season. He’s second on the Dolphins’ leaderboard for both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, behind the next individual in the categories.
1. Larry Csonka (1968-74, 1979)
Larry Csonka is the no-brainer selection for the best Dolphins rusher in franchise history. Csonka, an eighth overall pick by Miami out of Syracuse in the 1968 NFL Draft, was a huge body in the backfield, a fullback at 6-foot-3, and legendary tough rusher for the Dolphins.
Csonka was a big part of the Dolphins’ back-to-back Super Bowl–winning seasons in 1972-73, winning Super Bowl MVP honors in Super Bowl VIII, totaling an immaculate 145 rushing yards and scoring twice in the big game.
Csonka was a five-time Pro Bowl selection during his first stint in Miami along with three consecutive first-team All-Pro selections in 1971-73. The fullback later joined the WFL very briefly before signing as a free agent with the New York Giants.
Csonka returned to the Dolphins in 1979, rushing for over 800 yards in his final NFL season (his fifth-best output in an 11-year career) and retired. His number was later retired by the franchise, nodding to the legend, and Csonka was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987. He’s Miami’s leader in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns to this day.