By: Shawn Williams
“One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life”
- Chinese Proverb
Powerful philosophy, and measured advice. Although something like Chinese Proverb can be useful in all aspects of life, I imagine this can be applied to Sports; maybe, perhaps, for any coach looking to start a rookie Quarterback. For Brian Flores, it couldn’t be more profound and revelatory. When He, and the Miami Dolphins selected Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, they choose one of the most polarizing prospects in college football history.
The omnipresence of Tua’s career is hardly imaginable. He took the field for Alabama as a “true freshman”, in the second half of the 2018 College Football National Championship. In front of 75,000 screaming fans, Tua sailed a 41-yard pass into the endzone, resulting in a 26-23 overtime victory over the Georgia Bulldogs. The following year, under the bright lights of national hype and attention, Tua led the Crimson Tide through an undefeated regular season and a second straight National Championship appearance.
Sadly, Tua and his team fell hard to a Clemson team featuring a new freshman phenom in QB Trevor Lawrence. In what many considered to be his final season at Alabama, and with an opportunity for redemption, Tua’s collegiate career would be cut short. In their November 16th match-up against Mississippi State, Tua took a sack that would change his life. That hit dislocated his hip and fractured his posterior wall, throwing his career into a horrific tailspin that left some doubting he’d ever play again.
Tua is easily the most heralded college quarterback since maybe Andrew Luck. Confidence and swagger oozes from his every pore. The accuracy and anticipation in which he throws is mystifyingly rare in the college game. His Alpha personality has made him a captivating leader. Conversely, Tua’s injury history has earned him the highest potential for the story “What Could’ve Been”. There is no assurance his hip holds up. There’s no promise for his first game, or a five, ten, or fifteen-year career. Tua is risk and he is reward.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has brought the Miami Dolphins as far as he will be allowed. He has the team sitting at a 3-3 record and very real playoff possibilities. I think we all know the debt of gratitude of which he is owed. But this, is not about that. This, this is about the decision Brian Flores has made to turn the fate of the Dolphin’s franchise over to Tua Tagovailoa; a rookie, less than a year removed from his devastating hip injury. Granted, Tua has worked hard, he has fought physically, mentally and emotionally. Tua’s promise to fulfill his destiny, and motivation to honor his Samoan name and culture in the absolute, have driven him through the toughest and darkest challenges he may ever face, to arrive at this exact moment. His small series at the end of the game against the NY Jets brought his journey of recovery full circle. Sunday, at 1:05pm, in Miami Florida will begin his, and the franchise’s next chapter.
I won’t do him the disservice of trying to project his career or predict his first game. He has clearly shown that his fate is in his hands alone. This kid is special. He and his story are what makes sports so tantalizing. He is all the of the feelings sports can provide. He is a comeback kid. His potential is generational. He is happiness and heartbreak. Most of all, He is hope, and I just want to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Please welcome Shawn Williams to PhinManiacs and please check him out on Twitter @swilliams3205