Even before joining the Dolphins as a number two pick in the 1980 draft, the friendly, unassuming Dwight Stephenson had received accolades generally reserved for “skill position” players. “Dwight Stephenson was the best center I ever coached,” proclaimed Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. “He was a man among children.” Stephenson was enshrined to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
MODERATOR: Thanks for joining us today, Dwight. How are you doing today?
Dwight Stephenson: Pretty good, doing real good.
jmroz: How do the Dolphins of your day compare to the Dolphins of today?
Dwight Stephenson: The Dolphins of today are bigger and quicker. But, they are learning how to win like we learned how to win. This team is trying to find their way and gain their own identity. We came off the football with more of an explosion than the guys today. Today's players use a lot more creativity and like to take advantage of the defensive line.
manimal: Who was your role model as a young player?
Dwight Stephenson: My father was my role model. I looked up to him and he really appreciated hard work and cared about his family.
cclark: Who do you think is the best offensive lineman in the game today?
Dwight Stephenson: That's a tough question for me! One of the guys that really stands out to me is Pace from St. Louis and Searcy from Jacksonville. Searcy is a scrapper and very physical. He comes off the football with good movement. Pace has better movement than Searcy, but both are excellent.
cooldave: Do you feel partly responsible for the success and longevity of Dan Marino?
Dwight Stephenson: I would like to think that I had positive effects on people's careers (that I played with). Dan is such a great guy and it was easy to work with him. So, I would like to say I was partly responsible for Dan staying around!
packman04: Is football getting too complicated? For example, all the stunts, coverages, etc?
Dwight Stephenson: Not at all. The game is good and it's great how offenses are moving people around to create mismatches. I think it's great and it's always been a thinking game.
manimal: Were you and Dan Marino good friends off the field?
Dwight Stephenson: Yes. Dan is a great friend. His family are great people and we are still friends.
kpaluso: Who was your favorite head coach?
Dwight Stephenson: I only had two: Shula and Bryant. Bryant had more of an affect on me as a person. He was influential in helping me to think and achieve goals. He helped me become a better person and player. As for Shula, he was very similar to Coach Bryant. He knows how to develop people so well.
cooldave: Who was the toughest guy you had to line up against?
Dwight Stephenson: Joe Klecko and Howie Long. Both of them really understood the game and what they wanted to get done on the football field. They were both quick, both strong, and played the game smart. With Howie, you never went up against him in consecutive plays. He was always moving up and down the line. Football is about making adjustments. It was hard making those against those guys.
jmroz: Is there anything you would've changed about your career when you look back?
Dwight Stephenson: No, I'm happy with my career. I'm very thankful to God. Of course, there are some things I would like to have done better. I would've liked to win the Super Bowl. But all in all, I'm happy with how things turned out.
goldie: Who do you think was the greatest center of all time?
Dwight Stephenson: That's kind of hard to name one. Let me name three: Jim Langer, Mike Webster and Ray Donaldson. Donaldson was a great center and I hope he gets to the Hall of Fame. Those guys were people I played with and of the three, one of them is probably the greatest of all-time.
MODERATOR: And finally...
kpaluso: Do you think your Hall of Fame bust looks like you? Did you approve it?
Dwight Stephenson: You know, I look at that and I don't think it really looks like me. I remember myself with hair and I don't have any hair on it! Again, just to be in there is absolutely the biggest thrill you could have in your career.
MODERATOR: Thanks for joining us today, Dwight. Any final thoughts?
Dwight Stephenson: I appreciated the opportunity to play in the NFL. The game is still a great game and is only getting better. I was happy to be a part of it! Thanks for having me!