Bob Matheson joined the Dolphins just in time for "the glory days" of the early 70's. An integral part of the No-name defense, he helped plug the middle for nine Miami seasons.
Bob Matheson was a 6'4" linebacker drafted out of Duke University by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the 1967 NFL Draft, 18th overall. He appeared in 55 games over four seasons.
Matheson joined the Dolphins starting in 1971. He appeared in 14 games with Miami, starting one. He made a total of 39 tackles with two sacks and a fumble recovery. Miami finished 10-3-1, making the playoffs but eventually losing to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl VI, 24-3.
In Miami's perfect 17-0 1972 season, Matheson started one of 14 games. He finished the year with approximately 60 tackles, including 12 in a week 14 16-0 shutout against the Baltimore Colts.
Matheson started two of 14 games for the Dolphins in 1973 as Miami returned to the Super Bowl with a 12-2 record. Miami beat the Minnesota Vikings, 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII. His best performance of the season was in a week nine 44-0 victory over the Baltimore Colts. Matheson made eight tackles, broke up a pass, recorded a sack and blocked a punt. He finished the season with approximately 55 tackles.
In 1974, Matheson started eight of 14 games for Miami, mostly at left linebacker. He finished the season with 98 tackles and three sacks, two in a week 12 victory over the Bengals, 24-3 in which he also collected six tackles and broke up one pass. Miami won the AFC East with an 11-3 record, but lost to the Oakland Raiders in the Divisional Playoff, 28-26, in the "Sea of Hands" game.
In 1975, Matheson was Miami's starting right linebacker in 13 of 14 games. He racked up 90 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions, also pitching in on special teams by blocking two field goals. The team finished the season 10-4, but missed the playoffs.
Slowed due to injury, Matheson started 11 of 13 games for Miami in 1976, mostly at the right linebacker position. He finished the season with 71 tackles and two interceptions. Ravaged by defections to the upstart World Football League, the team posted a 6-8 record, the first losing campaign of Don Shula's Miami career.
In 1977, Matheson started nine of 14 games for the Dolphins. He made approximately 112 tackles for Miami, including 17 in a week eight win over the New York Jets, 14-10. He also recovered two fumbles and picked off a pass. In spite of returning to glory with a 10-4 record, Miami was denied a return to the playoffs.
1978 would see Matheson limited to three starts over 12 games for the Dolphins. Due to injury, he had minimal impact on the Dolphins performance in their 11-5 season after the third week. He made 12 tackles along with one sack and one fumble recovery that week in a 31-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Miami was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Houston Oilers, 17-9.
Matheson appeared in all 16 games for the Dolphins in 1979, starting three. The Phins went 10-6, but were again sent packing in the first round, this time by the Pittsburgh Steelers, 34-14.
After the season, Matheson returned to Duke as an assistant coach. He passed away in 1994 due to complications of Hodgkin's disease.
Miami has a long history of game changing linebackers. Who was the most dominant linebacker in Dolphins history?
Nick Buoniconti (661 votes)
Larry Gordon (14 votes)
AJ Duhe (269 votes)
Zach Thomas (2855 votes)
Mike Kolen (11 votes)
John Offerdahl (403 votes)
Doug Swift (22 votes)
Brian Cox (158 votes)
Bob Brudzinski (23 votes)
4416 total votes