Standing inside the same auditorium where his former coaches delivered passionate pregame speeches and reviewed game film with the team – Joe Philbin’s mantras and principles, as well as framed photos of the organization’s two Super Bowl-winning squads gracing the walls around him – former Miami Dolphins wide receiver Chris Chambers addressed dozens of fan-site moderators gathered for Web Weekend XI.
Joined by fellow team icon A.J. Duhe and Finsiders host Greg Likens, Chambers – decked in a black windbreaker jacket and matching thick-rimmed glasses – was candid and reflective, touching on everything from being caught off-guard when he was traded to San Diego midway through the 2007 season to earning a Pro Bowl selection during Nick Saban’s lone tumultuous year in South Florida.
After presenting DolfansNYC with two of our extremely humbling three Webby Awards and obliging every photo- and autograph-seeker following the ceremony, No. 84 graciously took time out to look back on his career highlights, express his appreciation for Dolphins fans on the road and much more in a one-on-one interview.
Looking back on your six-and-a-half-year Dolphins tenure, what were some of your favorite memories?
“There are so many moments. The Dallas Cowboys game (on Nov. 27, 2003), being able to score three touchdowns. Jay Fiedler and I both got the Turkey Award there, (but) I gave it to him though because he was the older guy. Now, I (tell him), ‘I want my award back!’ It was cool at the time.
“My first touchdown against Indianapolis (on Nov. 11, 2001), Jay threw a beautiful ball to me, and I caught it, 60 yards (downfield). I ended up getting my second touchdown in the same game.
“And then the Buffalo Bills game (on Dec. 4, 2005), where I set the Dolphins record for receiving yards and catches. That was a game that was very bleak at halftime, and then enter Sage Rosenfels, and it was bombs away!
“Those games have been outstanding, and I can’t wait to continue to look back and watch some of those games, and show my son and some of his peers what his dad did when he was on the field.”
That was an incredible Dolphins comeback against Buffalo. Do your franchise records still stand?
“Brian Hartline broke (the receiving yards record), actually (on Oct. 30, 2012), and I was kind of crying a little bit. [Laughs] But he’s a good receiver, and I don’t see anyone touching that for quite some time. We’ll see how (long the record stands).”
You caught passes from 10 different quarterbacks in Miami. What kind of impact did the ‘quarterback carousel,’ as you’ve called it, have on your game?
“You know, you kind of got used to it after a while. We never had that one guy who was the quarterback here – (whom) you started with here, continued to play with and grew with. That’s what made it difficult, when you’d have to have a different guy (frequently). I remember us having a left-handed guy, then we had another righty, and then a guy who was a little more mobile.
“I called it a lot of guys on (ends) of their careers, like Daunte Culpepper, who wasn’t healthy. Gus Frerotte – he had gray hairs, for God’s sake! Guys like that, they went out there and did what they did, and I had some good seasons, but once I got with a more stable quarterback (with the Chargers), that’s when I was able to take off a little bit.”
Who were some players you admired growing up and modeled your own game after?
“Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, I was a huge Ohio State fan, so, Terry Glenn and Joey Galloway (were my role models). If you see a lot of my plays, you see me diving and stuff, I got that from Terry Glenn.
“I was a die-hard Cleveland Browns fan, with Webster Slaughter, Eric Metcalf and those guys. They were really good – they had Bernie Kosar and The Dawg Pound – and that’s what really ignited me as a youngster to play football. To be able to have that (experience) and know that today, kids really look up to us, it really is something special.”
When you first entered the NFL, were there any veterans who took you in and served as role models?
“Absolutely – Sam Madison, Terrell Buckley, James McKnight, who was already a receiver here. He was one guy I really looked up to (because) he was a really good route runner, a very positive guy, a very clean guy.
“I just kind of jumped in, and once the guys saw my athletic ability on the first day of camp, guys received me even though I was kind of there to, at some point, take their jobs. They did an excellent job of supporting me and showing me the ropes.”
You recently had a chance to serve on the Dolphins coaching staff during training camp and help some of the younger players. How much did you enjoy that experience?
“I was an intern, so I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t know if I was going to be stapling papers or whatever, but when I went in there, I knew a lot about this offense already, because a lot of plays that Norv (Turner) ran were similar to Bill Lazor’s. We were all on board and they really respected my knowledge. Every time I spoke in the receiving room, the guys paid attention to me.”
Do you plan to pursue a full-time coaching gig in the future?
“It’s just something that I wanted to do. I don’t know if I’m ever going to become a full-time coach, but I love the flexibility to come out here and help the guys, and see the guys go on their way. It really brought me closer to this organization again, because I didn’t know anybody but the snapper, (John Denney). He was the only guy who was here when I was here. Now that I know some of the players’ faces, had some conversations with them, it meant the world to me, and I think the Dolphins should continue to do that with some of their former players.”
Finally, DolfansNYC will have as many as 1,000 fans cheering on the team when the Dolphins visit the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 1. As a player, how did it feel when you’d walk into opposing stadiums and see aqua and orange in the stands?
“It felt so good! I think we have some of the best fans in the NFL – we always have. To come to New York – when you have your Fire Marshall on one side and have (Dolphins fans) rooting – it was just an outstanding feeling. Knowing you can come into a stadium and you see Dolphins tents and you see Dolphins tailgates, for the home team, it’s kind of intimidating, and it lets you know that the support is huge.
“I just want the Dolphins fans to continue to support us. I think we’ll have a very good team this year and (fans) will be able to get behind us.”
For more Chris Chambers check out his non-profit foundation Catch 84 and his South Florida training facility The Chamber.