Former Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Manny Fernandez was the Rodney Dangerfield of football. He could never get respect. A native of San Lorenzo, California, Fernandez was undrafted out of the University of Utah. At 6’2 and 250 pounds, his college coach told pro scouts Fernandez lacked the size and talent to play in the NFL. The Dolphins originally signed Fernandez in 1968 because of his Hispanic heritage. But the truth was he couldn’t speak a word of Spanish. His vision was so bad, he wore coke-bottle glasses off the field. But despite his poor eyesight, Fernandez had no trouble finding ball carriers.
Fernandez was one of the most dominant and underrated defensive linemen in Dolphins history. He made an astounding 17 tackles in Super Bowl VII against the Redskins. But he was passed over for MVP honors in favor of teammate Jake Scott. Sportswriter Dick Schaap had partied the previous night, struggled with a terrible hangover and barely watched the game. He looked at the stat sheet and noticed Scott had two interceptions and chose him for MVP. Fernandez played all 8 of this NFL seasons with Miami from 1968 to 1975. He was a member of 3 AFC championship teams, two Super Bowl Championship teams and the NFL’s only undefeated team. Yet despite all those accomplishments, he was never selected to a Pro Bowl. Off the field, he was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed hunting alligators in the Everglades. In 2014 Fernandez was inducted into the the team’s Ring of Honor. To read more stories about the Orange Bowl, visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/