Dwight Eugene Stephenson (born November 20, 1957) is a former American football player and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's class of 1998. He played for the Miami Dolphins from 1980 until 1987, when his left knee sustained an injury in a play involving New York Jets Marty Lyons and Joe Klecko.
Life and career
Stephenson was born in Murfreesboro, North Carolina. He was an All-American at the University of Alabama, under coach Bear Bryant. Bryant called Stephenson the best player he ever coached, regardless of position. He was drafted by Don Shula and the Dolphins in the second round of the 1980 draft. The 6'2", 255 pound Center (American football) would eventually become regarded by many as one of the best centers of all time, but was used on special teams only until late in the 1981 season, when Mark Dennard was injured.
With the exceptionally explosive Stephenson as offensive captain, the Dolphins offensive line gave up the least sacks in the National Football League for a record 6 straight seasons, from 1982–1987, which doubled the length of the previous record. After he left, the Dolphins' line would continue to protect the pocket superbly, extending the record to 9 straight seasons.
Stephenson was voted as an All-Pro five consecutive times from 1983 to 1987. He was selected to play on five Pro Bowl squads over the same span. He started at center in the AFC Championship Game three times, in 1982, 1984, and 1985. He was the starting center in the last two Dolphin Super Bowl appearances: Super Bowl XIX and Super Bowl XVII. In 1985, Dwight was the recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
On December 12, 1994 he was added to The Miami Dolphin Honor Roll.
Despite the brevity of his career, in 1999, he was ranked number 84 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players. Also, in 1999, he was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2011 he was inducted into the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame, for his contributions to sports in southeastern Virginia.
In 2005 he was named the Walter Camp Man of the Year.
- Pro Football Hall of Fame: Member profile