By: Jason Sarney
They say silence can de deafening. In a time of social media, standard media, and virtually dozens of ways to get your voice out these days, it seems a professional football player only lets his play do the talking.
Second-year linebacker for the Miami Dolphins, Andrew Van Ginkel has been playing like a man possessed in 2020. Better yet, a man inspired. We will get to that.
While Van Ginkel is as soft-spoken as they come, he is as ferocious a tackler and block-shedder this team has seen at the linebacker position in quite some time. While never one to boast, show-off, or simply talk a lot, it seems as if you have to force the Wisconsin grad to praise himself.
We will do it for you, Andrew.
Van Ginkel is coming off perhaps his best football game as a pro, and this is two weeks after he scored his first career NFL touchdown on a 78-yard fumble recovery thanks to defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah’s sack on Rams QB, Jared Goff. That return is the NFL’s longest fumble return TD so far this season.
Yesterday against the Chargers, it took only the first sequence of plays for Van Ginkel to be the tone-setter, as the linebacker shot through the Special Teams protection of the Chargers, and proceeded to block a punt, setting up an easy Salvon Ahmed touchdown run from the 1-yard line.
In 2020, Van Ginkel has 25 total tackles (12 solo) a tackle for loss, 5 QB hits, 2.5 sacks and of course his signature plays, the fumble recovery TD and yesterday’s blocked punt.
Yesterday following the victory, Van Ginkel did open up a bit in comparing his highlight plays. “Man, they both felt good. But touchdown is unbeatable. You’re putting points on the board, so that’s hard to beat, so I’ll definitely say touchdown.”
It’s easy to look at a football player and simply expect production from a professional athlete. However, what not many people know watching a game or listening to one is what is going on under the helmet and inside the heart of a human in pads, or as we sometimes only see, an NFL football player.
A very common theme in this sport, as in my own life, is the Holy Trinity of Family, Faith and Football. A trio that combined can hold such power, even when one aspect is hurting, like a great team, the other parts of the equation pick up the hurt component and move on.
Andrew Van Ginkel and his family, as many people have this year and in normal life, suffered a recent loss of a loved one. You would not know hurt and pain if you only look at what you see on the field.
That goes for all athletes, as the vast majority of fans who care so much about a player’s performance on the field, seldom take a moment to care at all about it off the field.
Like anyone else, Andrew, not able to be as close to his family the last few weeks as anyone in their situation would ideally like, Andrew has not been alone.
There seems to be an angel on his shoulder pads, and over the last few weeks, the former High School Quarterback from Rock Valley, Iowa is playing his best football of his life. And while an entire city back home, and now a franchise fan base in the Miami Dolphins rabid Orange and Aqua faithful root and support Van Ginkel, this is only the beginning.
Van Ginkel was a 5th round pick in 2019, started the year off with a hurt foot, but had a strong end of season which he continued into 2020. This is a young man who started outside of Division I football, eventually transferring to Wisconsin before earning a name-calling honor at the 2019 NFL Draft when Miami selected him 151st overall.
Starting his collegiate career at the University of South Dakota playing defensive end, he transferred to Iowa Western Community College still playing DE. Then, he became a linebacker and a Badger at Wisconsin, and the rest is the present, with a future that has a sky-is-the-limit boundary.
Van Ginkel is as humble as he is hungry and is a perfect cut in the Brian Flores mold. “You see all of us, all 53 guys on the roster, and then even the practice squad players who are coming into work each and every day and I think that’s gotten us to this point and it’s something that we need to continue to do to really take it to the next step because we’re not perfect at all and there’s a lot to improve on,” he told Miami media. “Just taking it day by day.”
With Andrew Van Ginkel playing as well as he has, on a defense that has been a top performing overall unit in the league, this young-man is only starting to succeed at his life-long dream.
And those with him on his ride, the same support system since his pre-college days in Rock Valley. The same Family who has always had Faith in him, to live his Football dreams and make them realty.
Andrew Van Ginkel is a hero in Rock Valley, and while he has an audience of many in Iowa, he certainly has one now in Heaven.
You can follow Jason on Twitter @OrangeAquaman and the PhinManiacs PodCast