SI Vault
Jenny Kellner
December 21, 1987
Behind every great Miami Dolphins quarterback, there has been Don Strock
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December 21, 1987

Out Front Among Backups

Behind every great Miami Dolphins quarterback, there has been Don Strock

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At 37, Strock remains one of the highest-paid Dolphins, having signed a one-year contract worth an estimated $350,000 after a brief holdout during training camp. "Figure it out," says Griese, laughing.

All right. As of Nov. 1, with half the season played, if Strock didn't throw another pass all year—and deducting four weeks' pay for the strike—that would work out to $52,500 for each of his five completions. All of them came against the New England Patriots on Sept. 13, when Marino got kicked in the eye and left the game.

Actually that calculation is not entirely fair: Strock also was called on to punt seven times in that game after Reggie Roby went down. So his completions and punts were worth $21,875 apiece.

"A gravy train," concludes Griese.

Is Strock worth it?

"That '81 playoff with San Diego was a classic example of what he is capable of doing," says Dolphin coach Don Shula of the game in which Strock threw for 403 yards and four touchdowns only to lose 41-38 in overtime. "He deserved to be the winning quarterback in that one."

Between 1973, when he was drafted in the fifth round out of Virginia Tech after leading the nation in passing with 3,243 yards, and Nov. 1, the midpoint of this season, Strock has appeared in 155 games for the Dolphins. He has started only 20, but Miami's record in those games is 14-6.

"Everybody just has so much confidence in him," says Duper, who holds no grudges, even though he suffered torn rib cartilage the most recent time Miami ran the curl lateral. "He prepares himself so thoroughly you know he knows exactly what he's doing. We just feel that not only do we have the best quarterback in the league, but we have the best backup, too."

Since Strock's last start, a 34-14 defeat of the New York Jets in 1983, his playing time has come mostly in cameo appearances when Marino gets nicked or the Dolphins are way ahead or way behind. But if his value to the Dolphins were measured only by his arm strength, owner Joe Robbie would have found a cheaper cannon long ago.

What do you think the 6'5" Strock does when he stands there on the sidelines, aside from towering over people and looking conspicuous?

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