DAVIE – Defensive tackle Manny Fernandez was introduced as the 27th inductee into the Dolphins Honor Roll on Wednesday.
Fernandez played his entire eight-year career (1968-75) with the Dolphins and was elected by a vote of the Honor Roll Committee.
"It's a really big moment in my life and it kind of chokes me up a little bit,” Fernandez said.
One of Fernandez’s most memorable on-field moments came in Super Bowl VII when he had 17 tackles to cap The Perfect Season. Despite that effort, safety Jake Scott was selected Super Bowl MVP.
Fernandez, undrafted out of Utah, played 103 games with the Dolphins. He made 93 starts and had 35 sacks, the second-best total by by a defensive tackle in team history. His 5.5 playoff sacks are third-best in team history.
Fernandez lives in Georgia now.
“I love it up there but miss everybody down here,” he said, later adding, “Up there I’ve got to live with the Atlanta Falcons every Sunday.
“It really sucks.”
He was joking.
And that’s one thing his era did well. Dolphins defensive end Bill Stanfill, who joined Wednesday’s press conference via conference call, still called Fernandez by the nickname they used when he played – Taco.
Fernandez recalled his first experience with the Dolphins.
“My first impression I got off the airplane, got hit with the heat,” he said.
“They put me in a station wagon with five other ball players, no air conditioning, windows rolled down. We rode all the way to Boca, got there and the mosquitoes and gnats ate us alive. That very first day (Larry) Csonka caught an eight-foot rattlesnake right here in front of the dorms and I just thought to myself, ‘Boy did I screw up.’
“I had other teams that wanted to sign me as a free agent. The reason I signed with the Dolphins was not because I spoke Spanish. Looking at their record and their roster I thought, ‘I might be able to make this team.’ ”
Fernandez ended up doing quite well for himself, and his selection into the Dolphins’ Honor Roll is a testament to that fact.
“It certainly is a prestigious honor,” Stanfill said, “and I’m glad my old teammate and roommate is going in there. It’s well-deserved and overdue, to tell you the truth.”