Dick Anderson was a 6'2" defensive back for the Colorado Buffaloes when selected by Miami in the third round of the 1968 AFL/NFL Entry Draft with the 73rd overall pick. Upon arriving in Miami, Anderson would wear the number 40 jersey throughout his Dolphins career.
In Anderson's 1968 rookie season, he started 13 of 14 games for the Dolphins at right safety. His eight interceptions on the campaign were good for second best in the AFL, while his 230 return yards led the league. This includes a 96 yard interception return for a touchdown in a week 11 victory over the Boston Patriots, 34-10. Miami posted a 5-8-1 record, the defense finishing at or near the bottom of the league in every trackable category.
In 1969, Anderson started all 14 Miami games at right safety, intercepting three passes and returning them for a total of 106 yards. His three fumble recoveries tied for fourth most in the AFL. He also increased his utility to the franchise, punting the ball five times for 188 yards and catching one pass for eight yards. Miami finished the season at the bottom of the AFL with a 3-10-1 record. The defense ranked third in the AFL, allowing only nine rushing touchdowns and an AFL best 3.5 yards allowed per rush.
1970 would see Anderson joined in the defensive backfield by number 13 Jake Scott, a pairing that would terrorize opposing offenses through Miami's dynastic run over the next few seasons. Scott started 13 of his 14 regular season games at strong safety, intercepting an NFL third best eight passes on the season, and leading the NFL with 191 return yards. This includes two pickoffs of Al Woodall in a week 13 victory over the New York Jets, 16-10. The following week, he returned an interception 86 yards in a 45-7 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Miami finished with a then best ever 10-4 record, making the playoffs as a wildcard. The Dolphin's defense led the AFC, allowing 228 points on the season. They also led the AFC by limiting opposing offenses to 11.6 yards per catch.
Anderson started every game at strong safety for Miami in 1971. He returned eight punts for 114 yards, including a 47 yards return in a week two victory over Buffalo, 29-14. Anderson also picked off two passes for 33 yards on the season, recovering four fumbles. Miami posted a 10-3-1 regular season record. After Miami won their first ever playoff game, a 27-24 double overtime marathon over the Kansas City Chiefs, Anderson returned an interception 62 yards for a touchdown in the AFC Championship, a 21-0 victory over the Baltimore Colts. The defense placed second in the AFC, allowing 174 points on the season.
In 1972, Anderson led the NFL with five fumble recoveries, including one that he returned 35 yards for a score, breaking a 10-10 tie with the San Diego Chargers in a week five 24-10 victory. He also pitched in three interceptions, returning them 34 yards during the season. For his efforts, Anderson was selected to his first career Pro Bowl, also earning a First-Team All-NFL selection. Miami finished the season with a 14-0 record. In the divisional playoff game against the Cleveland Browns, Anderson twice intercepted quarterback Mike Phipps, helping Miami earn a 20-14 victory. Miami's defense led the NFL, allowing only 171 points on the campaign.
1973 would see Anderson lead the NFL with eight interceptions, the third time in his then six year career in which he would accomplish the feat. He returned them for 163 yards, including two for 65 yards and two touchdowns in a week 12 30-26 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. For the second consecutive season, he earned both a Pro Bowl selection and an All-NFL First-Team inclusion, adding NFL AP Defensive Player of the Year to his resume. Miami finished with an AFC best 12-2 record. In the divisional playoff, Anderson intercepted a Ken Anderson (no relation) pass as Miami defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 34-16. The Dolphin's went on to claim their second consecutive NFL title, beating the Minnesota Vikings, 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII. Miami's defense was even stingier that the prior season, allowing an NFL low 150 points.
Anderson started all 14 games at strong safety for Miami, earning his third consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl in 1974. He picked off one pass and recovered one fumble on the season. He also picked off Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler in the divisional playoff matchup, a game Miami eventually lost, 28-26. The defense allowed an AFC low seven rushing touchdowns on the season. Miami won the AFC East with an 11-3 record.
After missing the entire 1975 season with an injury, Anderson returned for two seasons beginning in 1976, playing 23 games off the bench and adding one interception to his career total. While injured, Anderson served as the President of the NFLPA from 1975 through his retirement following the 1977 season.
Over nine seasons, Anderson collected 34 interceptions for Miami, holding second on the all-time leaderboard. He started 93 of his 121 games played at whichever safety position he was needed at.