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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Miami Dolphins Uniform and Team History

Please click on the evolution of the Dolphins uniform poster above for a close-up version of the poster. The descriptions below give you some insight and background about the uniforms and/or eras depicted in the poster.

Fall 2021: To purchase a reasonably priced 8" x 24" plaqued mounted version of the Dolphins poster that's ready to hang on your wall, please visit Heritage Sports Stuff.

Miami Dolphins 1966 uniform
The American Football League (AFL) began in 1960 as an 8 team rival league to the NFL. Both leagues competed head to head for players, fans and broadcast revenue. This was the way it was from 1960 to 1965 - two separate leagues, two separate champions (although few people would have honestly believed that the AFL champion could have beaten the NFL champs). Then in 1965 the two leagues agreed to merge. It was decided that beginning in 1970 there would be only one league, the NFL. In the interim, between 1966 and 1969, the AFL Champion would play the NFL Champion for the “World Championship”. It was only after the first World Championship had been played in 1966 that the name “Super Bowl” came into being.

Thus it was in the midst of the merger of the AFL and the NFL that in 1965 the city of Miami and owner Joe Robbie were awarded an AFL expansion franchise, the first team to join the AFL since its birth in 1960 (the Dolphins became the 9th AFL team). A “name the team” contest was held and over 1000 names and 19,843 entries were submitted. Of the 12 finalists, the ‘Dolphins’ moniker garnered 622 entries making it a landslide winner!

The inaugural season started out with a bang with Joe Auer returning a 95-yard kickoff for a touchdown, just 15 seconds into Miami’s first game. Though the Dolphins would finish a disappointing 3-11 that opening season, by the dawn of the 1970’s Orange Bowl crowds would witness football supremacy.

This ’66 home uniform, as worn by such Dolphins notables as Joe Auer and Edward ‘Chief Wahoo’ McDaniel, quickly established the legendary Dolphins’ aqua, orange & white color scheme. Look closely at the helmet and you’ll notice that the dolphin is wearing a small helmet of his own and that his beak extends beyond the sun ‘halo’. Keep a close eye on this fellow, he’ll be undergoing some minor modifications over the course of the next 35 years.

Note: We have been contacted several times by Dolphins fans asking us if the way we have shown the helmet logo on the 1966 helmet is correct. We really appreciate this sort of question and we encourage people to keep ‘em coming. On the 1966 helmet, we show the dolphin head outside of the orange ring, and the fans in question felt it did not jump out of the ring in 1966. After further research, we have discovered game photos from the 1966 and 1967 season that show both logo styles in the same photos. So that’s where the confusion stems from - the team actually used two different logo styles - we chose to depict the dolphin jumping out of the helmet because it is a different look than what the team settled on for the next 10 years, which was the dolphin head within the orange ring. If anyone has further info on this subject, please share it with us at .

Miami Dolphins 1969 uniform
The Dolphins finish 3-10-1 in the final year of the AFL. Fans have endured 4 years of futility and mediocrity (15-39-2) but general manager Joe Thomas used this time to assemble a terrific football nucleus.

In 1967 he drafted Purdue quarterback Bob Griese, the following year he selected fullback Larry Csonka, Dick Anderson and Jim Kiick. Then in 1969, he not only drafted defensive end Bill Stanfill and running back Mercury Morris, but also traded for all-time AFL middle linebacker Nick Buoniconti, Larry Little and Paul Warfield. All this was setting the stage for great things to come.

Of note on this ’69 road uniform, the dolphin’s beak is now INSIDE the sun halo on the team helmet, and the overall look of the uniform is pretty unique – white shirt, white helmet, white pants, with a white belt to match!

Miami Dolphins 1971 uniform
Don Shula, who would eventually become the NFL’s all-time leader in wins, is hired on February 18, 1970 after 7 years as head coach of the Baltimore Colts. In 1970, his first season at the Dolphins’ helm, Miami’s new field general leads the Dolphins to a 10-4 record – the first winning season in franchise history.

Then came 1971. Not only do the Dolphins compile an impressive 10-3-1 regular season record, but they beat the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 in overtime in the first round of the playoffs and then shut-out the defending Champion Colts 27-0 to advance to the Super Bowl. And although they are then defeated 24-3 by the Cowboys in Super Bowl VI, this is the first of three straight Super Bowl appearances for the Dolphins.

Of special note, by this time the home uniform has an aqua belt, and the striping is absent from the sleeves. As we did research on Miami’s uniforms through the years, we were surprised to see how often players wore different colored belts – even in the same photo. Thus we have tried to depict the most common belt color, in this case it was an aqua belt.

Miami Dolphins 1972 uniform

No AFL or NFL expansion team has gone from first-year loser to ultimate winner as quickly as the Miami Dolphins, who won it all in 1972, just 7 years after their first season.

If you’re a Dolphins fan, you know what happened in 1972, and can probably recount the scores of every game in their 17-0 season by heart. But for the record, here goes:

Regular Season (First team listed was the visiting team)
9/17/72 Dolphins 20 Chiefs10
9/24/72 Oilers13 Dolphins 34
10/1/72 Dolphins16 Vikings14
10/8/72 Dolphins 27 Jets17
10/15/72 Chargers 10 Dolphins 24
10/22/72 Bills 23 Dolphins 24
10/29/72 Dolphins 23 Colts 0
11/5/72 Dolphins 30 Bills16
11/12/72 Patriots 0 Dolphins 52
11/19/72 Jets 24 Dolphins 28
11/27/72 Cardinals 10 Dolphins 31
12/3/72 Dolphins 37 Patriots 21
12/10/72 Dolphins 23 Giants 13
12/16/72 Colts 0 Dolphins 16

12/24/72 Browns 14 Dolphins 21
12/31/72 Dolphins 21 Steelers 17
1/14/73 Dolphins 14 Redskins 7

The 1972 Dolphins’ perfect 17-0 season is the only perfect season in NFL history! The 1934 Bears, the 1942 Bears, and the 1972 Dolphins are the only 3 teams in the history of the NFL to go through the regular season undefeated and untied. But the ‘34 Bears lost to the Giants 30-13 in the NFL Championship Game, while the ‘42 Bears lost 14-6 to the Redskins in the final game. This leaves the 1972 Dolphins as the only team in NFL history to go undefeated and untied throughout an entire NFL regular season and playoffs. A truly remarkable achievement.

Of note: The ’72 road uniform showcased here is not the definitive Dolphins’ uniform for 1972! Our records show that there wasn’t an exact standard uniform. In the same photo we see some players wearing orange belts while others wore aqua. It’s the same thing with the jerseys - some jerseys had sleeve striping, others had none (Bob Griese, for example, wore a different jersey from his teammates!). But in the end, did it really matter? The aqua and orange carried the day, and for Miami fans, the image of coach Shula being carried triumphantly off the LA Coliseum field on the shoulders of his players will forever be etched in their memory!

Miami Dolphins 1973 uniform
The Dolphins’ juggernaut continues to roll! The ’73 Dolphins finish the regular season 12-2, their first loss since 1971 coming in game 2 (a 12-7 loss to the Raiders in Oakland) and their second loss coming 11 games later in game 13 (a 16-3 loss to the Colts in Baltimore).

In the playoffs the Dolphins crushed the Bengals 34-16 in the AFC Divisional Playoff, then they knocked off the Raiders 27-10 to advance to Super Bowl VIII was the Vikings.
The Dolphins then captured their second straight Super Bowl by steam rolling Fran Tarkenton and the Vikings 24-7. This game showcased the sheer dominance and power that Larry Csonka brought to the fullback position - he shredded the Vikings’ defense for a Super Bowl record 145 rushing yards on his way to winning the MVP award.

This home uniform shows several changes since 1971, the most noticeable of which is the fact that orange and white striping has returned to the sleeves.

Of note: The 1974 Dolphins went 11-3 but lost in the 1st round of the playoffs 28-26 to the Raiders in Oakland, and in 1975 they went 10-4 but amazingly missed the playoffs. They would also have quite a few more great years in the late 70’s and 80’s, but they haven’t quite equaled the magic of the early 70’s, when from 1970 to 1975 they went an incredible 75-19-1.

Miami Dolphins 1980 uniform
By 1980, the home uniform has undergone some very subtle modifications. First, the jersey is a meshed fabric with silk-screened numbers. Now, look carefully at the Dolphins’ logo on the helmet - the dolphin’s beak is once again protruding from the sun halo, but now he’s wearing a larger helmet than in past years.

The 1980 Dolphins, led by QB’s David Woodley and the aging Bob Griese, go 8-8 and miss the playoffs for the only time between 1978 and 1985.

Miami Dolphins 1984 uniform
As all Dolphins’ fans know, 1984 was a fantastic year for the Dolphins and their young sophomore quarterback! After losing Super Bowl XVII to the Washington Redskins in 1982, coach Shula looked to replace QB David Woodley. In the ’83 draft, with the 27th pick, Miami selected Dan Marino from the University of Pittsburgh, and Marino would go on to become the NFL’s most prolific passer of all time. Marino not only went on to set NFL passing records for yardage, completions and TD’s that ’84 season, he also helped lead the Dolphins to a 14-2 record and another berth in the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, the 1984 Dolphins would go on to lose Super Bowl XIX 38-16 to a powerful 49ers team that went a combined 18-1.

The ’84 road uniform shown here, as worn by Marino and his two favorite targets, Mark Duper and Mark Clayton, features a standard aqua belt worn, as far as we can tell, by all personnel. We say this because throughout many of the Dolphins’ glory years in the early 70’s, there were numerous instances of players wearing slightly different uniforms from each other during the same game – not a crime by any means, but interesting that as recently as the 70’s there wasn’t rigid enforcement of uniform standards.

Miami Dolphins 1988 uniform
A trying year for the Dolphins’ organization as the team goes 6-10 and finishes up 5th overall in the standings. In fact, this is the Dolphins only losing season in the entire decade of the 80’s.

The team’s uniform has undergone some interesting changes. On this road uniform you’ll notice that the dolphin logo is now not just on the helmet, but on the jersey sleeve as well, thus forcing the sleeve numbers up onto the shoulder area. Also, the chest uniform number and traditional orange trim has taken on a different look. The orange trim is no longer flush to the numbers, thus leaving a small white outline in between.

Of note: Until 1987, the Dolphins played their home games at “The Orange Bowl”, the name of their stadium in Miami. Then in 1987 a new stadium was opened, and it was named “Joe Robbie Stadium” in honor of team owner Joe Robbie. Then in 1996 Pro Player (a clothing line) bought naming rights to the Stadium and it became known as Pro Player Stadium.

Miami Dolphins 1990 uniform
The 1990 season is a bittersweet one for the Dolphins’ franchise as it mourns the loss of their beloved owner and patriarch Joe Robbie. Robbie passed away on January 7th, 1990 at the age of 73. On a happier note, the team also celebrates its 25th anniversary in 1990, and goes 12-4 in the regular season.

The 1990 Dolphins beat the Chiefs 17-16 in dramatic fashion in the AFC Wild Card game, coming back with 14 unanswered points in the 4th quarter. But a great season is snuffed out in a wild shootout against the Bills in Buffalo the following week –final score Bills 44, Dolphins 34. As is the case throughout much of Dan Marino’s career, the defense isn’t quite the equal of the Dolphins’ offense.

The ’90 road jersey showcased here depicts the commemorative 25th anniversary patch on the upper left area of the chest. The patch has the traditional Dolphins’ logo in the middle, sandwiched by the words ‘Silver’ and ‘Season’ along with the numbers ‘1966’ & ‘1990’. In honor of the late Joe Robbie, the Dolphins incorporated a thin black armband with the initials ‘JR’ on the right sleeve, although it’s hard to see these in this painting because of the angle of the torso.

Miami Dolphins 1994 uniform
During this season, the NFL and its franchises showcased “throwback” jerseys, or replicas of older uniforms – to help commemorate the NFL’s 75th anniversary. The 75th anniversary was also commemorated by the diamond patch on the upper left part of the torso.

Note that as part of the “throwback” uniform program, the Dolphins have reverted back to their late 60’s uniform number style, using a solid aqua number flush with a thin, orange trim.

One interesting thing about the Dolphins’ throwback uniform is the fact that the Dolphins were one of the few teams to wear a small NFL shield patch on their throwback jersey and pants. Most NFL teams added these patches to their uniforms beginning in 1991, but almost all teams did not include the patches on their 1994 throwback uniforms, but for some reason the Dolphins kept them.

In 1994 the Dolphins tried to recapture past glory on the field as well. They finished first in the AFC East with a 10-6 record, and won their AFC Wild Card game 27-17 over the Chiefs. Then in the AFC Divisional Playoff game in San Diego, the Dolphins let a 21-6 half time lead slip through their fingers and they lose a heartbreaker 22-21 to the Chargers. The Chargers then went on to lose in the Super Bowl to San Francisco, 49-26.

Of note: 1994 was Coach Don Shula’s second to last year of coaching. In 1993 he broke George Halas’ remarkable career record for wins, and by the time Shula retired at the end of 1995, he had compiled a remarkable regular season record of 328-156-6, and a playoff mark of 19-17. An incredible achievement.

Miami Dolphins 1997 uniform
By 1997 there have been some significant uniform changes.

On this road jersey, the following differences are apparent: the neckline color has been changed to aqua; the uniform number style, which has mostly been a Dolphins’ uniform staple since the franchise’s inception, has changed to a thick, black drop shadow effect that gives the numbers a 3D effect; finally, the Dolphins’ logo itself has been radically altered! The once ‘friendly’ demeanor on the dolphin’s face has been replaced with a more menacing, “we-mean-business” look! And the tiny, thin ‘hash marks’ circling the sun halo have been removed.

As far as the season is concerned, the 1997 Dolphins finishing with a record of 9-7, and make a post season appearance once again. Their quest to the Super Bowl falls short as they lose the AFC wild card game to the New England Patriots, 17-3.

Of note: Until 1987, the Dolphins played their home games at “The Orange Bowl”, the name of their original stadium in Miami. Then in 1987 a new stadium was opened, and it was named “Joe Robbie Stadium” in honor of team owner Joe Robbie. Then in 1996 Pro Player (a clothing line) bought naming rights to the Stadium and it became known as Pro Player Stadium. I realize this sort of thing is progress, but I can’t help but wonder what Mr. Robbie would make of this if he were still alive – it just doesn’t seem right.

Miami Dolphins 2000 uniform
This home jersey, has some interesting, subtle nuances. The word ‘Dolphins’ now appears just beneath the NFL logo on the neckline of the jersey. This is known as a “secondary logotype”. The addition of a secondary team logo just below the V-neck is now used by the majority of NFL teams. The striping on the Dolphins jersey sleeves has also become more complex and compact.

The year 2000 marked the first year since early ’83 that Dan Marino wasn’t at the helm of the offence. And although football in South Florida just won’t be the same without good ol’ #13 taking the snaps, life goes on for this beloved and legendary franchise.

Without Dan, the 2000 squad still team posted an impressive record of 11-5 finishing first in their division and advancing to the playoffs for the 6th time in 7 years, only to end up losing to the Oakland Raiders 27-0 in the second round of the playoffs.

Of note: As of the 2000 season - since 1970, the Dolphins have had only two losing seasons, in 1976 and 1988. An incredible run!

Miami Dolphins 2004 uniform
Text not yet written, but I believe the orange jersey made its debut in a Sunday night game against the Washington Redskins on Nov 23, 2003. They wore it again in the 2004 season, then not again until 2009.


Celebrate the Dolphins' uniform history by owning a piece of history:
If you love the Miami Dolpins and the history of the Dolphins franchise, you might really love to own an original piece of artwork celebrating the team's historic uniforms as seen in the poster at the top of this blog - you can actually own one of those original pieces of art! There are only 13 pieces of original art available for sale, and when these 13 are sold, that's it, they're all sold out.

These original watercolor paintings would make a great gift (birthday gift, anniversary gift, retirement gift, Christmas gift, etc.) for someone you love or even a great gift for yourself (one of these framed pieces would look fantastic in your home or office). Each piece can be bought one of three ways:
1. As unframed art that you could have framed or mounted yourself (the one on the left)
2. Framed in our "Classic" framed version (the middle version)
3. Framed in our "Deluxe" framed version (the version on the right)

If you would like more information about this great artwork including the three ways you could purchase each piece, please visit our Miami Dolphins YouTube video at or go directly to the artwork website where you can see and purchase the artwork.

And if someone you know loves the history of sports uniforms (but maybe another team) and loves great art, please let them know that we have over 1500 pieces of great original artwork for sale at (all NFL teams, all MLB teams, all NHL teams, all CFL teams, select NCAA football teams) or check out each team's video at the Heritage Sports Art YouTube Channel

And please search my blog archive for other blogs on the history of the Dolphins.


This blog was written by Scott Sillcox and was last updated August 17, 2010. I have tried to ensure the accuracy of the information, but I am human and can make mistakes. If you believe I have made a mistake, please let me know by email at !

Many thanks!!!


  1. The orange jersey debuted in 2004.

    1. Thanks for the note - our friends at the NFL Gridiron Uniform Database show it starting in 2003 - see . What do you think?
      Thanks -

  2. Thank you for sharing I really like the NFL Logo design options. They are really logo design

  3. The Dolphins wore their orange jerseys against the Washington Redskins on Nov 23, 2003 in a Sunday night football game.


Thank you for taking the time to add a comment - all input is welcome, especially the constructive kind! All the best - Scott