On Dec. 2, his NFL legacy will be sealed forever as the former two-sport Northwestern State standout is inducted into Miami’s Walk of Fame prior to the Dolphins’ game against the Buffalo Bills.
Duper is part of the six-player Class of 2018 that will join the franchise’s greats in the shrine located at Joe Robbie Alumni Plaza at Hard Rock Stadium, the team announced in a Tuesday press release.
Duper will be joined appropriately enough by his fellow “Marks Brothers” receiver Mark Clayton in the Class of 2018. Other inductees include defensive end/linebacker Jason Taylor, linebacker John Offerdahl, tackle Jon Geisler and safety Dick Anderson.
A track star who was part of Northwestern State’s 1981 national championship 4×100 meter relay team, Duper carved out an 11-year career in Miami, playing with Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino.
Going into the Dolphins’ Walk of Fame alongside Clayton holds special meaning for Duper.
“Most people don’t understand Clayton and I played 10 years together, a whole decade together,” he said. “That’s something we took pride in. We stayed together and got things done. We won games together. Going in together is something you can’t script. I think the only other guys to (play 10 years together as a receiving tandem) were (Pittsburgh’s Lynn) Swann and (John) Stallworth. We did everything they did. They only difference was they won a Super Bowl.”
Duper was a three-time Pro Bowl selection with the Dolphins, who selected him in the second round of the 1982 NFL Draft. Playing in a high-powered, trend-setting offense, Duper caught 511 passes for 8,869 yards and 59 touchdowns. He had four 1,000-yard receiving seasons, including 1,085 yards in 1991, his age-32 season.
“If you look at what’s important here, it’s the rich history of Northwestern State football and the guys we sent to the NFL,” said head coach Brad Laird, whose father, the late Billy Laird, was Duper’s offensive coordinator at NSU. “It’s not only guys playing in the NFL but what they’ve accomplished there. This is another example of the quality of guys who have left here and gone on to play in the NFL.
“He had an 11-year career and played with one of the best quarterbacks in the game, Dan Marino. He was Marino’s favorite target, which should tell you what he meant not only to Marino but to the Dolphins.”
Duper lettered two seasons (1980-81) in football at Northwestern State, but his speed made him an appealing prospect for the Dolphins.
Combining with Clayton, Duper formed one of the steadiest, most reliable pass-catching duos in the NFL, one that had roots at Turpin Stadium.
“I have to thank Jerry Dyess for recruiting me as a sprinter,” Duper said. “I have to thank A.L. Williams, our football coach, for giving me the opportunity to play football. Everybody has a piece of this. This is not a one-man show.”
Photo is courtesy of the Miami Dolphins.