The History of Jersey #2

This is part two of a ninety-nine part series, where I’ll dig into jersey numbers and notable players that wore each number for the Miami Dolphins.

The number two jersey has only been worn by seven different players in franchise history – four of which only wore this number or played for the team for one year.

Today, we’ll focus on three of them: Cookie Gilchrist, Willie Beecher, and Brandon Fields.

Toronto Argonauts

Cookie Gilchrist, Halfback 1966

Doing this series where I cover players from each uniform numbers is incredible for the part of my brain that likes to go down rabbit hole after rabbit hole. Ultimately, I end up learning a lot in doing exercises like these about players I’d never heard of but that had great careers – as is the case for Mr. Gilchrist.

While his career as a Miami Dolphin was quite short, appearing in just 8 games for the ‘Phins and starting 5, Cookie’s career was quite a success.

Being offered an illegal, and thus revoked, contract offer from the Paul Brown during Cookie’s junior in high school was an incredible way to kickoff his career. From there, he bounced around six different Canadian Football League teams across 6 years, from 1954 to 1961 before finally getting his shot in 1962 with the Buffalo Bills. From there he would spend six more seasons playing the game he loved not only for the Bills but for the Broncos and Dolphins, too.

Cookie finished his career as a AFL Champion, AFL MVP, 3x first-team all-AFL, 4x AFL All Star, 2x AFL Rushing Leader, 4x AFL Rushing Touchdowns Leader, AFL All-Time Team – all after his 27th birthday. That’s an incredible achievement for a Running Back not only during that time but any time since. Here’s to you Cookie!

The Replacements

Willie Beecher, Kicker 1987*

Like I said above, you learn a lot when you start digging into the nooks and crannies of NFL history. Sometimes, though, you can’t find much. As is the story with Willie Beecher, Miami Dolphins kicker for three games in 1987.

During the 1987 season, the NFLPA went on strike largely over disagreements over the free agency policy. This 24 day strike resulted in three games being played by NFL teams using primarily replacement players – players cut during camp and street free agents with a handful of notable players deciding to disregard the strike and play anyway.

Willie Beecher was one of those replacement players.

Willie’s time in Miami may have only lasted three games but he absolutely made the most of it, going 3 for 4 on field goals and 12 for 12 on extra points during that stretch. Willie was cut after the strike ended, landed on the Buffalo Bills practice squad thereafter before being released at the end of the season.

A small moment in time to fans that was undoubtedly significant for a younger Willie Beecher.

Fox Sports

Brandon Fields, Punter 2007-2014

Punter Brandon Fields was drafted out of Michigan State in the 7th round of the 2007 draft using pick 225 – ultimately a steal for a punter of his caliber.

During his time at Michigan State, Fields was a member of the first-team All-Big Ten (2003-2004), was a Consensus All-American (2004) and even had an award named after him (The Eddleman-Fields Punter of the Year).

He accomplished all of this by being one of the nations best punters during his college careers:

  • 2003: 46.4 average yards per punt (#3) NCAA & (#1) Big Ten
  • 2004: 47.9 average yards per punt (#1) NCAA & (#1) Big Ten
  • 2005: 41.6 average yards per punt (#4) Big Ten
  • 2006: 43.3 average yards per punt (#1) Big Ten

Finishing as minimally a top 4 punter in the Big Ten every year of his collegiate career, with 3 out of the 4 in 1st place, in addition to finishing as the NCAA’s best punter in 2004 made this draft selection not only a no-brainer but an absolutely steal for the Miami Dolphins.

Fields finished his career in 2015 with a Pro Bowl and second team all-pro under his belt, both occuring because of his play during the 2013 season. For his career, he averaged 46.7 yards per punt, spiking in 2012 to over 50 yards per punt – this career average is tied for 7th in NFL history.

While fans never want to see their punter take the field, I’ll always remember rooting for Fields to kick one inside the 5 yard line.

Honorable mentions: Chase Edmonds (2022), Bradley Chubb (2022), Matt Haack (2018-2020) and Albert Wilson (2021-2022).