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Farewell, Jason Taylor. Dolphins' greatest defender ever? (with poll); plus NFL picks, Heat, Mike Stanton, change at 790, cursing baby & more

[1) LeBron James was born 27 years ago today (Friday). Happy Birthday, 'Bron. I have record albums older than you. 2) Our name-your-favorite-Heat-player poll is still accepting votes in blogpost directly below this new one. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Bulletin: Oy!. Dolphins just announced that RB Reggie Bush (knee) would miss Sunday's game vs. the Jets. It does not fill me wirh confidence over my having picked Miami to win. 

Click on A Tribute to Jason Taylor for my column.

FAREWELL, JASON TAYLOR: It is Jets Week in Miami, and the final game of a disappointing 5-10 season 1aa1jtis a perfunctory anticlimax from a football perspective but suddenly significant from an emotional one. It will be be Jason Taylor's 204th and final game in a Dolphins uniform across 13 seasons. Only Dan Marino played more games for this franchise. Taylor is the Dolphins all-time sacks leader (131), a six-time Pro Bowl selection and was the 2006 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The news of his retirement is hardly surprising; he is 37 and has been at this since 1997. Yet what is fully expected can still hit you. The finality of it. The sense of an era ending. Taylor's late-stage odyssey included a year with the Redskins, a spin on Dancing With the Stars, then a year with the Jets, but fittingly he came home to finish his career where he belongs. I think Taylor will make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I am more sure he is the greatest defensive player in club history, but invite you to tell me if I'm right or not. For the poll below I winnowed the candidates to seven, listed alphabetically. They include the Dolphins' lone defensive Hall of Famer (Nick Buoniconti), the other three defenders individually named on the team's stadium Honor Roll (Dick Anderson, Bob Baumhower, Doug Betters) and three of my choosing (Jake Scott, Taylor, Zach Thomas). A "someone else" option is there if you think I omitted somebody. Take a dip in our poll, tell us why your vote went where it did, and share your thoughts on Taylor as he prepares to say goodbye.

NFL PREDIX: DOLPHINS BEAT JETS AS NFL WRAPS SEASON: The Dolphins will beat the visiting J-E-T-S 1aa1fripixSunday, 24-20, because Miami will stop the run and force the game into (uh oh) Mark Sanchez's hands. One favor: Can we stop with the manufactured, false drama that has Miami in a spoiler role trying to ruin NYJ's playoff hopes? Those hopes are realistically ruined already. Even if the Jets won, they'd need Cincy, Tennessee and Oakland or Denver to all lose. Not gonna happen, Planes. And another Rex Ryan Super Bowl guarantee looks ridiculous. Click on Week 17 Gems for all my latest NFL picks. And on Fit To Be Tied for my Friday Page column on why Arron Rodgers and Drew Brees should be co-MVPs.

'HOCH' STEPPING DOWN AT 790: Marc Hochman, "Hoch" to friends and 790 The Ticket sports-radio listeners, informed staffers today he has decided to step down as program director and devote himself 1aa1hochfulltime to his role as producer/guiding hand/third-voice of the station's popular afternoon Dan Le Batard & Stugotz show. He'd been fulfilling both roles; a new PD has not yet been announced. Hoch is pictured feathering his street cred in the company of Snoop Dogg. (Hoch's the guy on the right). Hoch the PD leaves the station in good shape, affirmed by December ratings out today that show 790 again beating runnerup WQAM-560 across the board and in the overall book among the four local sports-radio stations. Two of my Miami Herald brethren have shows in the market. Le Batard led his time slot with a combined rating of 4.9 in the two major age demographics. Armando Salguero's morning show on 640-WMEN finished fourth with a combined December rating of 0.3.

THE HEAT WILL CRUSH YOUR DREAMS, OPPOSING FANS: Almost felt bad for Charlotte-ans last night, watching them control the Heat and control the Heat and ... lose 96-95 in the final seconds. LeBron and Bosh -- both terrific. D-Wade, off his game, but he scores the game-winner. And so it's only the fourth 3-0 start in club history. Going through my notes from the home opener vs. Boston the other night I came across Doc Rivers talking about the Heat's Big 2: "Deion Sanders," he said. "That's what LeBron and Wade are. You cannot throw a cross-court pass against them. You're never going to beat that team in a race." Special, this Heat team is. Very.

LATEST SUPER BOWL ODDS: The only teams at 10-1 or better entering Week 17, via Bovada.lv: Packers 9-5, Patriots 4-1, Saints 9-2 and Ravens 10-1.

1aa1mikestantonMARLINS' STANTON "NEXT BIG THING": ESPN The Magazine's upcoming Jan. 9 annual "Next" issue anoints Miami Marlins slugger Mike Stanton as the next big thing in MLB, something those of us down here have only known for about the past year and a half. Shown is the photo running with the piece.

TOYS 'R F---ING US: Toys 'R Us sells exclusively a set of triplet "talking" dolls, one of whom, 1aa1babydollwhen squeezed, says the phrase, "Crazy b----." Not "Crazy beard," in case you 'R confused, but rather a word that rhymes with "witch." Click here for a YouTube vid about this and to hear the baby for yourself. Said baby is pictured left, her innocent facade belying an apparent undercurrent of profane street smarts. (The "crazy b----" I have heard myself. Rumors the baby also rants, "Get off my s---, ho!" is mere speculation at this point). Readers know I'm no prude (closer to the opposite), but, to quote an NFL pregame show, "C'MON, MAN!"

THE LIST: DOLPHINS' SACK LEADERS: The all-time top five:

131     Jason Taylor     1997-2007, '09, '11

67.5     Bill Stanfill     1969-76

65.5     Doug Betters     1978-87

64     Vern Den Herder     1971-81

59.5     Jeff Cross     1988-95

Note: Club season record is 18.5 by Stanfill (1973) and Taylor (2002). Single-game record is 5 by Stanfill (1973, '74) and Den Herder ('73).

Click back. Will be updating and adding to this latest blogpost...

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