Albert Wilson Foundation kicks off National Foster Care month with meet and greet at Lime Mexican Grill
On Sunday evening, to celebrate Cinco De Mayo, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson brought his foundation to Lime Mexican Grill, located at 801 S University Drive, in Plantation.
The main objective of the Albert Wilson foundation is to give back to young kids in foster care homes.
“As I always like to say, it is about the kids. If I can put a smile on their faces and make their day, it makes my day,” Wilson said.
Wilson's desire to help children in the foster care system comes from the fact that he himself spent most of his childhood going in and out of Florida group and foster homes. It wasn't until he reached the 10th grade that he was able to really gain his footing, and now he's looking to help other kids do the same through events like this.
The night began with customers piling inside the restaurant to politely ask Wilson for a picture and an autograph. Once the photograph and autograph sessions concluded, customers began asking different questions to Wilson, with some being on the field-type questions and some off. One individual even decided to walk inside wearing a Tom Brady New England Patriots jersey. Once Wilson had made eye contact, he began shouting jokes to the young man.
“Overall, it was a successful night. I am grateful for the people who came out and supported my foundation and I am looking forward to upcoming events down the road,” Wilson said.
The next big thing on the docket for the Albert Wilson foundation is its Youth Skills Camp, which since its inception in 2016, has given over 150 kids annually the opportunity to be hands-on with the game of football, and it is scheduled to begin on June 22, right around the time the Dolphins will be getting ready for training camp.
Wilson sustained a season-ending hip injury in Week 7 of the 2018 regular season, and is scheduled to return to the football field once the Dolphins open OTA’s and training camp. But first he'll be fulfilling his personal mission to give the foster kids of the Treasure Coast something to look forward to.
This story was written by Brandon Liguori. Follow him on Twitter: @BrandonRLiguori
As we enter draft week, the talk is all about what to do with that first round selection number 13. It is fairly clear what fans feel about the core needs. Many are looking to fill vacancies left by the departures of Cameron Wake, Robert Quinn, and are still reeling a year later from the departure of Ndamukong Suh. There are glaring needs at right tackle as well with Ja’Wuan James moving on.
The fan base will be excited to draft any of the quality defensive tackle or defensive end prospects. My personal belief is that quarterback needs will be more of a developmental prospect this year and not a franchise cornerstone. If something crazy happens that Dwayne Haskins makes it past the Giants and the Broncos, maybe the Dolphins find a trade partner, but he will not slide outside of the top ten. At this point, 2020 will be the year the Miami Dolphins participate in the quarterback market.
So going into the draft, how do the Dolphins brass fill out the rest of the roster? They have the following picks to achieve this:
2nd Round (48)
3rd Round (79)
4th Round (117)
5th Round (152)
7th Round (235)
7th Round (236)
Mr. Irrelevant is pick 254, putting the Dolphins seventh round picks right in the middle. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th round selections. These middle round picks need starter potential and not special teams talent. That is the prism by which we will look at these picks.
I think the Miami Dolphins will take a top tier defensive line talent. My preference would be the intelligent leader of Christian Wilkins, but they may very well go with a splashier defensive end there. An argument can be made that beef in the middle of the defensive line can be found in later rounds to compliment what they already have in Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor. I’m not sure there is a Pro Bowler in that group, but if there is one, it will be Godchaux that takes the next step.
The second-round pick selection I have the Dolphins targeting Garrett Bradbury (center) out of NC State. He’s very strong with huge hands. His athleticism and quickness is unquestioned and was on display at the Senior Bowl. Being a tight end in high school contributes to his great feet. I think his strength (34 reps) and hand size will make him dictate the game at his will. Finally a solid replacement for Mike Pouncey.
Then, in my opinion it would be in the Dolphins best interest to go back to the interior offensive line and select Max Scharping (guard) out of Northern Illinois with their third-round pick. I really like drafting guys in the middle rounds from second-tier college programs. He played right tackle last year with a projection of sliding inside. That experience and possible line flexibility is the kind of pick the Dolphins desperately need. His wingspan is 80 inches and he is 6’6”. He will be a mauler at the next level and will be a great addition should the Dolphins organization see him as I do.
With the offensive line additions, I can see the Miami Dolphins burning a pick here on a developmental prospect at quarterback. With the fourth-round pick a prospect like Tyree Jackson (quarterback) makes all the sense in the world to me. Jackson left a year early so that additional development can happen on the Dolphins roster.
What better player to learn the position from than our current all-world smart guy Ryan Fitzpatrick?
Jackson's got every tool in the book besides accuracy. If he completed more than 55 percent of his passes he would be considered a first or second-day pick. Think Bills QB Josh Allen here But also, who were his skill position guys outside of Anthony Johnson? Tyree Jackson is the definition of developmental prospect with Cam Newton upside.
For the fifth-round selection I can see the Miami Dolphins keep it local and select Joe Jackson (defensive end) out of the University of Miami. He has all the tools to be successful. His issue is consistency. The write up on him is that he ran too hot and cold. His 2018 projection had him much higher than his current one.
This is a classic buy low opportunity. My only concern here is that he has a 3rd to 5th round projection so it’s likely a team takes a luxury shot on him in round three or four. Might be worth trading one of our next year picks to go get him. He can be coached up and fulfill his raw potential.
It is clear, the Dolphins absolutely must address the trenches this year. The back seven is actually in pretty good shape. If Miami can get some scheme help and produce creative pressure up front, the back seven will benefit. The skill positions are filled with exciting young players that the team will take the “next man up” approach with.
It is an exciting time to be a Dolphins fan. I don’t remember a time when we had so much confidence in the leadership of the team. This rebuild (oh, I mean youth movement) is the most exciting thing we've seen in a decade.
Embrace it, have fun, let’s go Miami!
This story was written by Steven Paulsen. Follow him on Twitter: @SarcasticPhin
You've seen this story written several times over the course of this site's existence. The Miami Dolphins annually host the largest fundraiser in the entire NFL, the Dolphins Cancer Challenge, to help battle against the scourge that is cancer.
You've seen how people feel about this event, how they personally are touched by the event and the pain that the disease itself has caused them and their loved ones.
You've heard from Michael Mandich, the son of Jim "Mad Dog" Mandich for whom the challenge was founded, you've heard from Mark Duper, who fought and won his own bout with cancer. And this year, we got the opportunity to hear from new head coach Brian Flores, who shared his own story about his mother's passing at the hands of cancer just five weeks earlier.
Each year the event grows more and more, featuring more riders, more runners, and more money raised to put an end to cancer once and for all.
"This is our biggest year yet, we're going to have over 5,000 participants and volunteers ... we're really grateful and proud of the community of Miami and Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach that come out year after year and support this." said Jennifer Jehn, the Senior Vice President of the Miami Dolphins Foundation and Dolphins Cancer Challenge. "100 percent of the funds we raise go directly to Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Research is expensive, research saves lives, and we're committed to giving patients their life back."
Last time we had a definitive count on how much money had been raised, it was over $27.5 million dollars given to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.
This year, enough money was raised to make that number seem small in comparison.
In less than ten years, the Dolphins Cancer Challenge has raised over $38 million dollars for cancer research, and this is no doubt a result of the fact that people of every walk of life come to support the cause. It doesn't matter whether participants are Republican, Democrat, straight, gay, or even if they're from another planet (this is a joke, ladies and gentlemen), there is no one you can talk to who will suggest that cancer is not a concern.
It's that rare sense of unity that allows the event to gain so much support year after year; Dolphins alumni come out in force to show their support. Even former cornerback Don McNeal, who for the past several years has battled multiple sclerosis, showed his support by being there, pulled by another biker at the 14-mile ride from the training facility to the stadium.
Current players like Raekwon McMillan, Walt Aikens, Zach Sterup and Kenny Stills threw their helmets into the ring, wanting to give more to the event than just their physical presence; they wanted to actually be a part of it.
"I wanted to do more than stand at the finish line and congratulate people." Stills said. "I wanted to be a part, so I was able to do both: ride, and then talk to people at the end and congratulate them and give them medals ... It's pretty special what we do here as an organization, with all of our events honestly."
Even now, funds are still being collected until May 7, 2019, so even the massive number we have on record may still not be the final one for this year alone.
Lives are being changed through the research being done at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and for the Miami Dolphins to be at the forefront of those changes, even as the football side of the organization goes through a massive change of its own, once again speaks volumes to the dedication the franchise - and those affiliated with it - have to making the world a better place.
The story isn't new, but the impact of the event doesn't fade, it just gets stronger, larger, and breaks records on the way to finding an ultimate cure to cancer.
“Throughout the entire 100 mile ride, I observed the dedication of so many people working to make this happen. The incredible support from the Miami Dolphins Foundation, the thousands of DCC participants, and donations from many generous contributors have such a significant impact on the patient-focused research we conduct,” Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Director Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., said. “Having a record number of cancer survivors participating speaks to the important progress we are making treating cancer. It all starts with research.”
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
Education has been a key focus for the Miami Dolphins for decades, and never has it been more important for kids to get the proper education they need in school than right now, in a world where lack of knowledge leads to extreme struggles later in life.
That's why early Monday morning, the Nat Moore Foundation - which now resides under the umbrella of the Miami Dolphins Foundation, and is the pillar of the foundation's education fund - gathered at Turnberry Isle to host their annual golf classic for the Nat Moore Endowment Fund.
"We started probably 25-26 years ago, we're raising money to send kids to college or to continue their education even through vocational trade public service." said Nat Moore. "One of the things I was challenged with by Steve Ross and Stuart Miller and some of the guys that have supported us dearly was, how do we help the most kids graduating from high school, get certified to go to work? So two years ago, we involved the vocation and trade, as well as scholarships."
Up until about two years ago, the event was hosted as an independent event by the Nat Moore Foundation, but now it enjoys the benefits of being a part of the Miami Dolphins Foundation, which gives them a little extra boost to help even more kids throughout Miami Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties.
Jennifer Jehn, who is the senior vice president of the Miami Dolphins Foundation as well as the Dolphins Cancer Challenge, credits teamwork for the events being able to come together so seamlessly in spite of everything else they have on their plate already.
"Well it all starts with a really good team," said Jehn. "One of our values at the Miami Dolphins is teamwork. Teamwork at work is really our community initiative, and we're committed to leveling the playing field through the power of teamwork to inspire a healthier, more educated, united South Florida."
And to become more educated, it has to be a priority, and the Dolphins see it as such which is why they have a hand in so many of their alumni charities dedicated to helping the youth of South Florida. Nat Moore's Endowment Fund helps the high school graduates, the Jason Taylor Foundation's entire goal is empowering youth, and that's not even counting the things the franchise does of their own volition.
There's no question it's a priority, and everyone involved recognizes that.
"You have to change with the times," said former Dolphins fullback Keith Byars. "As long as you're well-educated, you can be adaptive ... you're giving kids an opportunity to get involved, through their education, with whatever field of technology, whatever what have you; you're gonna be prepared."
"One of the groundsmen, he was like, 'Sam, oh my God, I remember you coming to Nat Moore's tournament, he gave me a scholarship!' And now he's working for the Dolphins, having an opportunity to be a groundsman there." said former Dolphins cornerback and current Chiefs defensive backs coach Sam Madison. "Just one of those things, and there's many other stories in itself that we can go into, but those are the types of things where you go, you come back, see these kids that you had an opportunity to help hands-on, and then they're being successful."
Breaks aren't easy to find in this world, and so it's telling that the Miami Dolphins are attempting to lead the way in the NFL to try and give students in need of a little boost, just what they need to potentially find success. Sometimes, a chance is all that's needed, and the Dolphins embrace that and make dreams come true in ways that often gets overlooked.
Yes, they spent the day playing golf, someone even went home with a new car thanks to getting a hole in one...but the intention is unmistakable, and the success stories attached to it is undeniable. Lives are being changed thanks to the Miami Dolphins franchise, and there's no telling how the world could change thanks to the contributions made by folks who show they care, just by swinging a club on a Monday morning.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
Back in 2001, Louder Than a Bomb was founded through the Young Chicago Authors, by Kevin Coval (YCA Artistic Director) and Anna West to give middle and high school youth a place to express themselves in ways that the world had never seen before.
Then in 2013, in conjunction with Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network, the Jason Taylor Foundation decided to throw their hats into the ring and start the Louder Than a Bomb Florida competition, giving the students of Broward County an opportunity to express themselves with the spoken word in a safe and comfortable environment.
"We met and spoke with the folks from Young Chicago Authors; with their blessing we brought the format to South Florida." said Vice President of Operations for the Jason Taylor Foundation, Sean Todd. "It's very rewarding to see the poets have the platform, and it's an honor for us to provide that platform to them where they can speak their truth."
39 schools across at least ten different locations competed in the preliminary bouts which spanned over two days, and the highlighted bout for this story took place at the Miramar Amphitheater, where this writer was honored with the privilege to be one of the judges for the second year in a row.
Student after student came out and gave it their all on stage, letting out what was in their hearts for the world to hear. For some, it was a simple poem, for others it was a way to vent feelings that have been bottled up for years. This was the case for one student from Charles W. Flanagan High School by the name of Isaac Bright, whose poem about a flower garden was filled with raw power, driven by his own personal life experiences.
"Mainly ... kinda family problems, but also because I really love flowers. Funny story, I actually wrote this while being socially anxious in an Applebee's." said Bright. "But, it's just when I start thinking of plants, my mind just tries to go somewhere. I don't normally do regular poetry, it's more just storytelling with fancy words.
"It took a lot of erasing, and a lot of trial and error, picking which went in and which couldn't. But really, one of my strategies is start from the end, and try to fill the points around it, that way the entire story flows together. How did we get to this point?"
Clearly the strategy worked, as Bright - along with his fellow "Writers Ink" teammates - took first place in the preliminary bout, giving them a trip to the next round, much to the pride of their coach, Kristy Modia, who is an English teacher at Flanagan High School.
"We worked hard to get here, we've been practicing ever since the beginning of the school year," she said. "So yeah, very proud."
This is just the beginning for this year's Louder Than a Bomb Florida, and it's easy to understand why the Jason Taylor Foundation puts so much effort into making this happen year after year. This empowers the youth of South Florida, lets their voices be heard and their passions put on display on a stage larger than any other. If the youth of today is the future, then maybe it's good we hear what they're thinking in the present.
Once again the Dolphins welcomed opened their arms to the community, as student athletes from the City of Miami Gardens Parks and Recreation athletic program, Broward County PAL, Miami-Dade County PAL, Palm Beach County PAL and the American Youth Football League came to the practice bubble on Sunday for the football experience of a lifetime.
In South Florida, the sun always beats down, even during the winter months when the rest of the United States is just trying to keep warm. But no amount of rising temperature could keep the Miami Dolphins away from their goal of making an impact in the community, as they held their fourth annual celebrity golf tournament in the name of fighting cancer at JW Marriott Miami Turnberry on Friday.
"It's a beautiful day for golf but an even better day for cancer fighting," said Jennifer Jehn, senior vice president of the Miami Dolphins Foundation and executive director of the Dolphins Cancer Challenge. "One hundred percent of our funds goes directly to cancer research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer, and that includes all the golfer's participation out here today."
Since its inception in 2010, in honor of former Dolphins tight end Jim Mandich who died of cancer in 2011, the Dolphins Cancer Challenge has raised over $27.5 million for cancer research, and has touched the hearts of people all across the country, whether they're currently battling cancer, have a family member with cancer, or have already survived their bout with cancer.
Many of the latter, return to do their part to repay the effort put into helping them recover, both by participating on the golf course and through the main bike riding event which will be held on April 6 this year at Hard Rock Stadium.
"We've been proudly sponsoring the Dolphins Cancer Challenge for the last three years," said Alex Pascual, the commercial banking manager for BBVA Compass Banking. "I'm personally very honored to be involved in this with the Dolphins foundation and Sylvester. I'm a cancer survivor, I was diagnosed with phase 2 lymphoma in 2006, and when we did all our research and our due diligence to find out where would be the best place to get treated, everything pointed out to Sylvester."
Thanks to the golf tournament and the main event at the stadium, the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center has been able to make breakthroughs in the field of treating this deadly disease. But one of the most important reasons the DCC has been able to bring in the crowds it has, is that it receives support from several celebrities across all South Florida sports, from football to hockey and beyond.
Some of them even have personal stories of their own.
"There is no question that I would come and help this event because I'm a cancer survivor." said former Dolphins wide receiver, Ring of Honor inductee and legend Mark Duper. "I had kidney cancer about seven years ago, everything is good, everything is fine. I just got one kidney, but I think my other kidney got bigger, so it all averages out."
Current athletes also came out in force to support the cause; Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant, defensive tackle Vincent Taylor, and offensive tackle Sam Young - who despite being a pending free agent is on the DCC board - all made appearances.
Even Brian Flores, who was only announced as the team's new head coach this past Monday, found the time to show up and express his gratitude and support for the event, as his mother is currently battling breast cancer.
The rate of death from cancer has steadily declined over the past 25 years according to the American Cancer Society, but the reality is that any number more than zero is still too high. This is why the event is held every year, to speed up the process of eliminating cancer once and for all.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
The mission of the Jason Taylor Foundation has been made abundantly clear over the years. Since the day it was founded, all the way back when the now Hall of Fame pass rusher was still making a name for himself in the NFL, the foundation has been focused on helping children in all walks of life.
In fact, they do so much already, that the Whiffle Ball tournament that was held on Saturday morning and afternoon for the third year in a row, almost never came into being.
"Dr. Todd Rodman, with sports chiropractic and natural health solutions, came to us." said Jason Taylor Foundation executive director Seth Levit. "He was a friend of the organization, we knew him through his family and some work with his nephew that we did. He has had a dream of putting on this whiffle ball tournament. Quite honestly, I was like, 'I don't need another event.' But Sean Todd, our vice president of operations, bought in, and he and Todd Rodman got together and this is their vision."
Their vision consisted of Pine Trails Park in Parkland, Florida, food trucks, live performances by various dance teams from schools in the area, and enough whiffle balls to supply an army, which is exactly what they had out there as over 34 teams, with over 200 players in total, came out to compete in support of the cause.
"We're about helping kids build a better future," said Levit. "Dr. Rodman very specifically wanted to raise money for children battling pediatric cancer, and then other pediatric emergencies as well. We do a lot of work with the Holtz Children's Hospital, and now this event helps support the work we do with Holtz, particularly those young people that are unfortunately suffering through cancer."
On top of the 200 players, 70 volunteers were on hand to offer their services for the event, with 150-200 spectators rounding things out. The amount of money raised from all of this effort? Nearly $30,000 dollars.
And there was nary a celebrity (with the exception of Levit's Fish Tank podcast partner O.J. McDuffie) to be found.
"What's really magical about it, it's not a celebrity event." said Levit. "Normally when you're here, you can't turn your head without bumping into a Dolphin. O.J. McDuffie, my partner on the podcast does have a team here, but this isn't about someone coming out just to see Jason (Taylor). This is about the community enjoying whiffle ball, coming out for a beautiful day, and knowing that they're gonna help young people."
It speaks to the level of dedication that the South Florida community has to making a difference that so much money could be raised with the only incentive being a day at the park and a cause to support. No celebrities, no promises of autographs, just a desire to make a difference.
The winners for the tournament was a team known as Wizard Creations, and that marks the second year in a row their team has come out on top. No doubt they will return to try and three-peat next year, where hopefully the event will reach even greater milestones.
Every kid has memories of the best thing they ever got for Christmas, that one thing that meant more to them when they saw it than anything else before or even after. For kicker Jason Sanders, it was a PlayStation 3 that he played endless hours of Call of Duty on shortly after receiving it.
On Tuesday night, the Miami Dolphins made even more dreams come true for 150 kids across Miami-Dade, Broward and Pam Beach County, as the players and coaching staff shelled out the money to get them the exact gifts they've been wanting for Christmas.
"It's important because the players financially, to be able to put their money and their resources in to have all these kids enjoy a good holiday season is amazing." said senior vice president of communications and community affairs Jason Jenkins. "It's not only about being on the field and trying to have success on there, it's really about teamwork at work, helping build this community and it's a great example of this."
Partnering up with Petland, the two organizations provided a designated area to interact with puppies, bounce houses, decorate Christmas cookies, playing games with the players, and taking photos with Santa Claus.
But the most important part of the night, of course, was when the kids were all gathered together near the endzone to receive the gifts that were purchased for them, ranging from Nerf guns to bicycles and everything in-between.
“I remember going to events like this when I was a kid and it really made my Christmas special,” said running back Kalen Ballage. “It’s my favorite part of the year every year. We try to get out there and reach the kids and have them look up to us as role models. Seeing the kids’ eyes get all big when we pulled the presents out the back seeing them get whatever it is they asked for, I think that was the most important thing.”
The Dolphins want everyone to remember what the true meaning of this time of year is, and for those kids, being on the receiving end of such a gift is something that they're sure to remember for the rest of their lives.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
In a country where things are becoming increasingly diverse, it becomes necessary to gain an understanding of where the heritage of those with different cultural backgrounds come from. So on Tuesday, the Miami Dolphins brought community leaders, local youth and law enforcement to go on a cultural tour around Fort Lauderdale with Dolphins players, alumni and executives.
This was the fourth of four tours scheduled to take place throughout the year.
The tour began at the African American Research Library, which held its grand opening all the way back on October 26, 2002. Since then, it's become an integral part of the community, offering classes in computer technology and educational, recreational, and cultural programs on a regular basis.
And it also touched the heart of Dolphins wide receiver Francis Owusu, who attended the tour as one of the representative players.
"One of the ladies really said a provocative statement, she said, 'to know where you're going, you gotta really know where you come from.'" He said. "We talked about a lot of groups that came before, specifically talking about the wars and World War II, the Buffalo Soldiers really stood out, I was reading one of the - it was up on the wall - just one of the pictures that had some stuff written about it. It was awesome to read about and experience."
The tour then moved over to the Urban League of Broward County, which Dolphins tight end MarQueis Gray immediately decided after visiting, he was going to contribute to their cause.
"My favorite part of the tour so far has been going to the Urban League," Gray said. "Knowing that anyone can just walk in and use their computers, print off anything, I mean they're helping these people get jobs. They lady told us a story that she's seen a young lady working outside, told her to come in, and they gave clothes to them so they could go into interviews and she got a job that same day ... I already told one of our speakers from the Urban League that I was going to help donate clothes so they can continue to hand those out to those people for their interviews. I know wear a lot of sports and stuff but I'm pretty sure I've got some suits that I can give back."
The tour concluded at the Historical Stranahan House Museum, and a trip to Las Olas Beach, and the entire group learned something new that day, even those who have been living in the area for a very long time.
"Even for a guy like myself, I've been places today I've never been." said former Dolphins wide receiver and senior vice president of special projects and alumni relations Nat Moore. "Learned stuff and saw stuff that I've never seen and I've been here my whole life. There's so much culture when you think about Fort Lauderdale, when you think about Miami, that if we can get our kids out, we can get our friends and families out, there's a lot to learn."
There's a lot of hidden culture still to be uncovered in South Florida, and there's no doubt the Miami Dolphins are committed to continuing to help normally separate groups of people see each other's perspective in an attempt to further unify the community.
As we all prepare to reflect on the things we're thankful for (not to mention pigging out on every savory food that's ever been associated with the holiday only to top it off with every pie flavor in existence), let's take a moment to see what it is our Miami Dolphins players are thankful, and remember that even though we see them play and talk on TV, they're still very much human beings, with just as much to be thankful for as any of us.
Linebacker Jerome Baker: “My family, my health and to be able to make the most of the dream I’m living.”
Tight end Mike Gesicki: “Family, my teammates and the opportunity to do what I love most every day.”
Running back Kalen Ballage: “I’m thankful for God, for my family and for this chance I get to play the game I love.”
Linebacker Quentin Poling: "Thankful for the huge supporting cast I have back home, through middle school, high school, college, all my friends, family, coaches, everyone's been behind me 100% to help me get to my dream where I am now."
Kicker Jason Sanders: "I have a great family, every day I'm thankful for what I have, what I'm able to do in life. I'm able to call myself a Miami Dolphin and go home to a great family."
Punter Matt Haack: "Definitely my friends, family, honestly just the whole opportunity I've been given with the Dolphins and everything, but for sure family. I wouldn't be here without my family."
Linebacker Mike Hull: "I'm thankful for my family every day, grew up with a great support system. All the opportunities I've been given in my life, and to be in the position I'm in right now."
Linebacker Stephone Anthony: "My family. I got a five year old daughter, mom, dad, thankful for my brothers and sisters, the normal."
Every year, you see me write a story about the annual Jason Taylor Ping-Pong Smash and how wonderful it is, its goal of raising money to help kids ever-present and ever-enduring as it kicked off its 15th year on Monday evening.
"It's been great," said former Dolphins defensive end and Hall of Famer Jason Taylor. "Fifteen years, it continues to grow, we have amazing support from all of our sponsors, mainly the Seminole Hard Rock Casino. It's always a fun event, it's great to come out, you see a bunch of kids get to participate, kids that come out and do the free clinics and get haircuts, and all the other things going on, Best Buy always outfits us with a bunch of stuff. This is one of the events that are for everybody."
Every year, this statement is always true. Kids do get involved, and the joy in the room is always palpable, even as a bystander. This year, over 80 kids came to the UPS Kids Clinic, and the event raised over $40,000 for the foundation's mission to empower children and youth in South Florida. Players come and are always ready to compete for a win, especially Kiko Alonso, who has made it to the "playoffs" every year since he's been with the Miami Dolphins, even winning the whole thing in his first year participating in the tournament.
"The reason I won the first year, which was two years ago, was because I had the greatest Ping-Pong player there ever was, and last year I got second because I had another good partner," said Alonso. "But this year, I've had a Ping-Pong table for a year now at my house, so I've gotten better. I can carry my weight now."
And a few rookies appeared for the first time, including Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki and linebacker Jerome Baker, the latter also made the playoffs for the tournament, and it was clear that both of them were anxious to get started.
But here is where the story takes a turn, one that adds a whole new dimension to the experience, one that I did not foresee but was quite happy it happened. For the first time since I began covering the Ping-Pong Smash, I didn't just watch the event unfold.
I got to play too.
Due to some unfortunate happenstance, some alternatives were needed to fill out the tournament bracket, and together with Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post, we filled that role and played through the "regular season" (which in reality is just the preliminaries to decide who moves on).
While we didn't actually do that well (it took me a while to get used to the rules), because of this experience, I now truly understand why this event is so anticipated year after year. The feeling is electric, even the most casual players let their competitive side out...and those who are already competitive (like myself) got even more competitive.
So often, these stories feature players saying how great it is to come out and be with the community, hanging out with fans, kids, sponsors, etc. But it isn't until you actually hop into their shoes and experience it for yourself that you realize that these players are telling the truth when they say they enjoy doing what they do.
In the end, Dolphins tight end Nick O'Leary, paired with Jared "Orange Tux Guy" Wische of Dolfan Project, defeated Kiko Alonso and Luke Freeman of Wizard Creations for the title, with Aja Crowder (wife of former Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder) and Rich Goodman of Northwestern Mutual taking third place.
Having experienced it firsthand for the first time, I feel I have a better understanding of why this event is so successful each year, and why so many come out to offer their contributions to the cause. Who says philanthropy can't be fun at the same time?
Fashion shows are generally viewed as opportunities to admire the female form, and it would be a lie to say that wasn't the case this past Friday as the Dolphins cheerleaders worked the catwalk at Hard Rock Stadium, but the underlying theme was a bit different than usual this year, as the cover girls (along with the rest of the squad) were depicted much differently than what's the norm for things like this.
They wore no makeup at all in their photos.
"This is the coolest year to be on a cover," Cheerleader Paige said. "Because it's just raw images of us, completely untouched. So you get to see our inner beauty through our eyes, I get to tell a story through my picture, and I think that's very special to me, that just being myself with no makeup on it is going to be handed out to people and people are going to admire it."
For the very first segment of the fashion show, the theme was called "You Be You," and it gave the cheerleaders the opportunity to design their own outfits and let their personalities shine through the way they wanted it to, and there was definitely no shortage of variety as the girls came out to show them off.
"We kinda got to wear whatever we wanted, that we felt represented us in the best way." said Cheerleader Katie. "I really liked this part because we all are so different, we don't have one image similar to the next, we are the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders 2018 because of all 36 of us. So I felt like it was really a chance for us to contribute to that and show people how different we are and how diverse our team is."
In many ways, this is groundbreaking stuff for the NFL, as the Miami Dolphins continue their crusade against injustice and discrimination in the world. Owner Stephen Ross started up RISE (Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality) back in 2015 as a way to combat racism in the world of sports.
But women also need help.
"It's definitely hard as a woman in this world, and in industries like this," said Katie. "It's hard to overcome rejection and overcome stereotypes. We are one of the most stereotyped groups in the industry, unfortunately. It's nice to be the first to overcome it. I feel like we're setting a foundation for all NFL teams, all cheerleaders, and it's really a blessing to be able to do that, be the first to do that and be a part of that movement."
"It's really tough," said Paige. "When you look at cheerleaders, you look at all the rhinestones, the bright lipstick, perfectly manicured, and it's almost sad that little girls will look up to us and think that that's what they're supposed to look like. So I think this direction that we're taking is very, very huge, because we do have a lot of little girls that are looking up to us, so they get to see these pictures and they're like, 'well you know, Paige is on the cover and she has no makeup and I love that photo of her,' so we're hoping to encourage women and little girls to be proud in the skin that they are in and just embrace their inner and outer beauty that God has given them."
This will likely be only the beginning for the movement that the Dolphins Cheerleaders kicked off on Friday; in a world where equality is something so strongly sought after, this is an excellent start, and one can only imagine what the future will hold.
Jason Taylor Foundation hosts 14th annual 'Cool Gear for the School Year' shopping event at Old Navy
It's the beginning of the new school year, and kids all across South Florida are getting ready for a fresh start. But not everyone gets the same opportunity to go in with a fresh new look to match the fresh start, and this is where the Jason Taylor Foundation takes it upon themselves to make up for it.
On September 10, for the 14th year in a row, 60 kids from across South Florida were chosen to be gifted with a total of $300 dollars each to go on a shopping spree at Old Navy, in search of new clothes, backpacks, and whatever else they wanted to get their hands on with a celebrity shopper accompanying them along the way.
"It definitely is a pleasure for all of us to see the kid's faces light up and shop with them," said former Dolphins wide receiver Oronde Gadsden. "We get to listen to them, help them with anything they need at that time, it's just a great event. We've been doing it with Jason (Taylor) as fellow teammates for probably as long as he's had the event. It's a great thing and we look forward to it every year."
The event always features an All-Star cast of guest shoppers, which this year included former Miami Dolphins players: David Bowens, O.J. McDuffie, Anthony Harris, Troy Drayton, Sam Madison, Oronde Gadsden, Mark Higgs, Louis Oliver, Patrick Surtain, and of course the man whose name is on the foundation, Hall of Fame pass rusher Jason Taylor.
Taylor continues to prove that he has a real heart for children; pouring millions of dollars into his charity and in one night alone, spending over $60,000 just for the sake of kids being able to go into school feeling good about the way they look. He's been where they are, and he wants them to have that burst of confidence.
"I was a poor kid growing up, my mom busted her butt to try to make ends meet, sometimes school ends in May and starts back in September." said Taylor. "Like any young 15 or 16-year old boy you're gonna grow over the summer, so sometimes you grow two or three inches and you just don't have money for new clothes ... It's in vogue now to wear short pants with your socks hanging out, it's great now, but back then you get clowned about it. I just want to help these kids with their confidence, take one less thing off their plate."
What's truly heartwarming about this whole thing is that those kids who have been blessed by the Jason Taylor Foundation's dedication to their cause, many of them have turned right back around to repay that kindness in full.
"We've been around long enough now to have kids come through being in elementary school, go through high school, graduate, going to college, leave college, come back and volunteer for us," Taylor said. "Some are actually now paid staff members for us, so you're getting that full cycle of a kid's life and seeing what they're becoming."
That's the true goal of any such event like this: it's not just about making a kid's life better, it's about making a lasting impact that will drive kids to become a better person in the future so that they too will have a heart for helping others who are in need, just like they once were.
Someone who shares that heart is current Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills, who - alongside teammates Davon Godchaux and Charles Harris - also made an appearance as a celebrity shopper for this event.
"It's a good way for us to spend time," said Stills. "This year's a little bit different for me, because one of the kids, he has to wear a uniform for school so we had to shop for school clothes and make sure we got that out of the way. I asked him to make sure we had enough school clothes, I hope we don't end up getting in trouble because we got a couple pairs of the school clothes and then we started getting the regular wardrobe type stuff."
Stills in particular has been especially active in the community since he arrived in Miami, having won the Nat Moore Community Service Award for the past two years for his dedication to helping South Florida and volunteering his time to whatever causes he can.
"I feel like I wouldn't be where I'm at today without the help of other people, helping me throughout my life as a young kid all the way to now," Stills said. "So it's my way of paying it back, it comes from my heart, I had people who helped me get to where I'm at, so I wanna give back as much as possible.
"I would love to have a foundation of my own and be able to put events like this on at some point in time, and I think when the time's right, I'll do it."
So often, the topic of discussion is what the Jason Taylor Foundation did on any particular night, whether it's a ping-pong tournament or shopping for clothes; this time, it has become abundantly clear that the impact is more than skin deep. They have inspired others to follow their lead, and that will have much longer-lasting effects that any one shopping event.
And that is where they should truly place their pride in. They made the years of 60 kids in one night, but they've also planted the seeds of potential for an entire generation to give back the same way they do now.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
Miami Dolphins honor Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ Aaron Feis with George F. Smith Coach of the Year Award
During Sunday mid-game versus Tennessee, the Miami Dolphins honored Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School football coach Aaron Feis with the George F. Smith Coach of the Year Award. Feis was killed during the Stoneman Douglas massacre on February 14, after shielding his body to protect students from the gunman.
Feis' wife, Melissa, and daughter, Arielle, were part of the ceremony honoring Feis with the George Smith High School Coach of the Year Award during the third quarter at Hard Rock Stadium. They received a standing ovation from the crowd.
Further honor was bestowed on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Eagles as their team was named the Miami Dolphins' team of the week, getting an opportunity to run on Hard Rock Stadium and stand with the team during the National Anthem.
The varsity football team defeated South Broward this past Friday night by seventeen points, 23-6, improving to 2-0 when it won its first home game since February's mass shooting, in which The school's athletic director, Chris Hixon, was among those killed. Seventeen others were injured.
“It’s an honor for all of us, really, for Coach Feis to get the Coach of the Year Award. If you knew him, you would appreciate that he got that award, because he really was a great man, mentor, friend and dad. For him to get the award was definitely an honor and well deserved. Anybody who knew Coach Feis loved him. We miss him every day and we’re very happy for him, his family, and all the MSD family,” said Coach Willis May, the varsity head football coach. “As far as being here today and getting the opportunity to be here, it’s amazing.
"Our kids had a blast. To be on the field pregame, I saw mouths dropped. Everybody was just in awe and they were just incredibly touched. What a wonderful day for our kids and our program. We had a blast. We loved it and we can’t thank the Miami Dolphins enough for everything they’ve done for us since February 14. We want to say thank you and how much we appreciate it and what they’ve done for our kids. It’s amazing.”
This story was written by Brandon Liguori. Follow him on Twitter: @BLiguoriSports
Some of the most memorable parts of football games is meeting up early at the stadium and enjoying good food and friends at a solid tailgate party, and the Miami Dolphins decided to host one of their own at the first Football Unites tailgate party of the 2018 season.
This is the third year in a row that the Dolphins are hosting these tailgates, which are meant to strengthen relationships between community leaders, youth and law enforcement.
"Great thing about it is it's funded by (Owner) Stephen Ross and our employers, and how can we move this conversation forward?" said Senior Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs Jason Jenkins. "And to get these different groups out here today to meet each other in fellowship around the sport of football, it's a great feeling ... the teamwork at work, we wanna make South Florida healthier, educated and more united, and events like these can help us with that goal."
All the stops were pulled out for this party, as a live DJ, a massive foosball table, food and even a scavenger hunt were slated to help bring these diverse groups together to get to know each other better. Even former Dolphins wide receiver O.J. McDuffie was seen making an appearance, enjoying the time with the fans and giving them a real Dolphins vibe.
But as it's often been the case, some things are bigger than football. There are causes to be fought for, injustices to be righted, and from the day of its inception, that has been what Stephen Ross and his RISE initiative has been fighting to accomplish, and there have been examples of the impact its had.
"I think it's more so the continued communication," said Jenkins. "You see groups, and you come back and see them next year and say 'oh yeah, this is my friend now,' or 'oh yeah, we're going out here' ... it's a great thing not just for the kids level, but also the organizations too. That's one thing we saw as well, because there are so many groups in South Florida, so many positive and great organizations, but sometimes they're a little splintered.
"So the Dolphins not only bring the kids together, but also these organizations that ultimately, we all have the same mission. We want to move forward, we want to be better, and we want to treat this as an issue of humanity, not just one race or one gender, one sexual orientation or identity."
The Miami Dolphins are using the backdrop of football to unite groups that have the potential to be at odds with each other, and through this experience, perhaps spread the influence beyond South Florida to further level the playing field for groups in the community who need a little extra boost.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
The Miami Dolphins will soon find their way back home to Miami Gardens. On Tuesday afternoon, Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel officially made the announcement that the franchise would be building a brand new, state of the art training facility right next to Hard Rock Stadium, continuing the renovations that have been ongoing for the past few seasons.
This brand new facility will include all the latest in sports science technologies, and will ensure that the Dolphins have all the space they need in order to put the best product out on the field on any given Sunday.
"I think having one organization all pushing the rock up the hill at the same time's really important, I have a lot of confidence in what's happening up in Davie right now." said Garfinkel. "Just really excited about the energy at training camp right now, the most important thing we do as a football organization is try to win football championships, it's been a while since we've done that, and everybody in this organization's working really hard to do that, and I'm just here to support those guys and let them do the jobs and do everything I can to help support them towards that effort."
But the efforts have not just gone towards making sure that the team gets the benefits of this new facility, Garfinkel made it clear that the fans have a large say in what happens as well.
"If we can make the stadium nicer for fans, certainly, we don't exist without fans." Garfinkel said. "So everything we can do to make it better for fans, we're going to try to do ... we really wanna focus on creating different experiences for fans, great experiences for fans, the days of just fans showing up to a stadium, now you really gotta get everything right."
And the front office is doing what they can to make sure they do just that. Since Dolphins owner Stephen Ross initially invested in revamping what is now known as Hard Rock Stadium, over a half-billion has come out of the real estate mogul's pocket in the name of creating the best possible football team and fan experience.
Not only are they building a brand new training facility, they also plan on growing their own sod down in Palm Beach in order to better control the field conditions from week to week, and the outer parking lots have finally been repaved after the fans have called for its renovation for a long time.
The Miami Dolphins do hear the cries of their fans, and they do listen. Garfinkel iterated that if enough fans asked, they would even consider adding a swimming pool to the stadium, though that isn't in the plans as of right now.
But what is in the plans is - of course - the brand new food items that will be available in 2018, which includes some brand new dessert options such as Mojo's Donuts, and plenty of old classics such as Shula Burgers and Bru's Room menu items made for Hard Rock Stadium.
Plenty of variety, and all of it delicious.
It should be noted that with everything that the Miami Dolphins are doing, in adding these new renovations, food items, and a brand new training facility, the Miami-Dade area stands to benefit greatly, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez made it clear that he was very grateful to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross for the contributions he's made.
"He put in over $500 million dollars to the renovation of this stadium, which then allowed us to then compete for and get a Super Bowl in 2020, a national championship game in 2021," said Gimenez. "I am certain we're going to be a host city for the World Cup in 2026, and I have a high degree of confidence that we're going to be one of the semi-finalist cities. All of that, we wouldn't have that if it weren't for that investment, we wouldn't have had El Clasico last year if it weren't for that investment.
"We would not have had these great soccer tournaments that we had last month if it were not for that investment, this stadium was getting old, it was getting tired, and we weren't going to get awarded another Super Bowl or these events, had Mr. Ross not made these investments."
New art, new concessions, and a brand new training facility. Relatively unmentioned throughout all this is the new team that the franchise will be fielding for the first time on Thursday, August 9 during their first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Miami Dolphins have done everything they can to try and make their stadium and facility the best it can possibly be, and now it's up to the football players and coaches to make it a matching set.
The Miami Dolphins did more than just scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday. Underneath the stands inside the Hyundai Club, the team was hosting their sixth annual High School Media day, inviting over 110 teams from all across Miami Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties to get a taste of what it's like to deal with the media in a press conference setting.
"It's a great experience for the kids," said coach Steve Smith of the Miami Killian Cougars. "Obviously, they do it in college and they do it in the pros, it's a great experience for them to be able to come out here ... see what it's all about and talk in front of the media, express their thoughts."
As players go through the ranks and make their way to the college level, there are a lot of lessons that need to be learned for them to be prepared for the attention they will be getting on a national level, not the least of which is learning how to handle themselves on social media.
There have been instances where some athletes have adjusted to the new experience better than others, but that does not change the approach that is taken with them.
"The Dolphins showed a quick video before they even stepped in here, and everything is about education." said Shawn Cerra, Director of Athletics and Student Activities for Broward County public schools. "You gotta support them and love them, when the kids set foot on campus, you know they're your responsibility. Every kid's story is different, they come from all kinds of walks of life, and some of them have parents, some of them don't, so you really gotta get to know their story and really understand the individual, and then once you know that, kinda build off that."
As a franchise, the Miami Dolphins have dedicated themselves to growing the game of football in ways that go beyond the field, as proven by the seemingly endless list of charitable causes they contribute to. But even with the emphasis on building up these young players, the Dolphins still acknowledge that they can only offer instruction and advice, they cannot force the kids to follow it.
"Be positive, know what you're saying, social media. Does this need to be said? Does this need to be said by me? And does it need to be said right now?" said Dolphins Senior Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs Jason Jenkins. "It's on every level, we don't try to force them, but especially because we're not the coach, we're not the parents, we kinda show them what we look for. [General Manager] Chris Grier, he doesn't speak to these kids specifically, but we talk about when we do our scouting process, that's how deep it goes."
So often players have found their past coming back to haunt them in the form of tweets and old videos of them doing or saying something that they shouldn't have. If the media day can teach these kids - of nothing else - the importance of not hitting send, then that alone is a major victory.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
The Miami Dolphins have had several NFL greats wear their colors over the course of the franchise's existence, and six more of those players were unveiled on Tuesday to be added to the team's prestigious Walk of Fame.
Safety Dick Anderson, wide receiver Mark Duper, and linebacker John Offerdahl were all present at the Wynwood Walls for the reveal, getting to share their thoughts on being chosen for the Walk of Fame. Also being added are defensive end Jason Taylor, wide receiver Mark Clayton, and left tackle Jon Giesler, who were unable to attend due to prior engagements.
The previous inductees to the Walk of Fame are:
Class of 2014 – Jeff Cross, Sam Madison, Tony Nathan and Ed Newman.
Class of 2013 – Kim Bokamper, O.J. McDuffie, Mercury Morris and Keith Sims.
Class of 2012 – Tim Bowens, A.J. Duhe, Manny Fernandez, Nat Moore, Earl Morrall and Don Strock.
Class of 2011 – Nick Buoniconti, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Langer, Larry Little, Dan Marino, Joe Robbie, Don Shula, Dwight Stephenson and Paul Warfield.
Between the six 2018 inductees to the Walk of Fame, they combined for 22 Pro Bowl selections, seven first-team All Pro nods, seven AFC Championships and two Super Bowl titles, playing a grand total of 61 seasons, appearing in 828 games with 741 starts.
An impressive resume, to say the least.
But what's more impressive is the impact that these players have made off the field, not just on it. Continuing with the tradition of the Miami Dolphins doing everything they can to make South Florida a better place, the inductees are also being recognized for their contributions to the numerous causes the Dolphins are involved with.
"With the Miami Dolphins in the community, you see a lot of activities going on." said Mark Duper. "You'd be surprised how much the Dolphins deal in the community, which leads me to being in the community because Nat (Moore) ain't gonna stop. I mean, the phone just constantly rings all the time with something going on in the community ... which is great, I don't mind doing that."
With all that said, it would be remiss to simply dismiss the individual accomplishments of these players on the football field, as it is because of their success there that they have the platform they have.
And make no mistake, these players are not just community warriors, they have a veritable laundry list of achievements to their names.
Dick Anderson was a three-time Pro Bowl safety (1972-74) and played in 10 seasons (1968-77) for the Dolphins. One of the leaders on the No Name Defense, he was a first-team All-Pro selection on the 1972 undefeated team. In 1973, Anderson led the league in interceptions (8) and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year, assisting the Dolphins in winning their second straight Super Bowl. His 34 career interceptions are still second all-time in Dolphins history. Anderson was named to the Dolphins Honor Roll on Dec. 3, 2006, is a member of the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team and Dolphins’ 50th Season All-Time Team. Anderson was also enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
Mark Clayton was a five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver (1984-86, 1988, 1991) and played 10 seasons (1983-92) for the Dolphins. He saw action in 142 games with 127 starts during his Dolphins tenure and totaled 550 receptions for 8,643 yards (15.7 avg.) and 81 touchdowns. His 550 receptions and 81 receiving touchdowns are both franchise records that still stand today. Clayton set the NFL record (since eclipsed) with 18 receiving touchdowns in 1984. He also led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 1988 (14). He was inducted into the Dolphins Honor Roll on Dec. 15, 2003 and is a member of the team’s 50th Season All-Time Team.
Mark Duper played 11 seasons with the Dolphins (1982-92) and was a three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver (1983-84, 1986). He totaled four 1,000-yard seasons (1983-84, 1986, 1991) and 22 100-yard efforts. He is the team’s all-time leader with 8,869 career receiving yards. His 511 receptions are second in team history while his 59 touchdown receptions are third. A downfield threat, Duper averaged 17.4 yards per reception throughout his career, the second-best mark in franchise annals and the sixth-highest in NFL history among receivers with 500-plus career catches. He was inducted into the Dolphins Honor Roll on Dec. 15, 2003 and is a member of the team’s 50th Season All-Time Team.
Jon Giesler played 10 NFL seasons (1979-88), all with the Dolphins. He played in 126 career games with 105 starts, all at left tackle. As the anchor of Miami’s offensive line, Giesler helped the Dolphins lead or tie for the league lead in fewest sacks allowed in each of his final seven seasons (1982-88). He helped Miami win two AFC Championships (1982 and 1984) and protected the blind side of Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino for the first six years of Marino’s career. He was the team’s 1987 nominee for the Ed Block Courage Award and was selected by fans to the organization’s silver anniversary team.
Jason Taylor is a six-time Pro Bowl defensive end/linebacker (2000, 2002, 2004-07), three-time first-team All-Pro honoree (2000, 2002, 2006) and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He played 13 seasons with the Dolphins (1997-2007, 2009, 2011) and is the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks (131). His 204 games played and 186 starts are second in team annals and he has the organization’s second-longest consecutive-games played streak when he appeared in 130 straight games from 1999 until 2007. Taylor was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2006, Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2007 and is a member of the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team. He was inducted into the Dolphins Honor Roll on Oct. 14, 2012 and is a member of the team’s 50th Season All-Time Team.
John Offerdahl was a five-time Pro Bowl selection (1986-90) and the 1986 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year after the Dolphins selected him in the second round (52nd overall) of the 1986 NFL Draft. Offerdahl earned first-team All-Pro honors in 1990. He was named to the Dolphins Honor Roll on Oct. 31, 2013 and is a member of the team’s 50th Season All-Time Team. Offerdahl was named the team’s Ed Block Courage Award nominee in 1993 and is a three-time recipient (1989-90, 1993) of the team’s Nat Moore Community Service Award.
These six players will be honored again at Alumni Weekend, which starts on November 30 with a golf tournament and culminates in a ceremony during the December 2 matchup at Hard Rock Stadium against the Buffalo Bills, with all proceeds from the events benefiting the education side of the Miami Dolphins Foundation.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
Saturdays are often associated with sleeping in and relaxing after a hard day's work, but this past Saturday, the Miami Dolphins threw that old stereotype out the window, as the organization teamed up with City Year Miami and got up at the crack of dawn for the 22nd annual Fins Weekend, all in the name of improving children's education.
“There’s a lot said about a community and an organization that can come together for the benefit of our youth,” Fins Weekend Chair Jeff Peck said. “I’m amazed by the amount of character within the South Florida community that this event revealed. It shows that we make our greatest impact when we come together and work toward a common goal.”
However, this year differed slightly from the years that preceded it, as instead of stretching the weekend out for two days, everything took place on the one Saturday. So both the fishing tournament and the golf tournament took place at pretty much the same time.
The reason for this change?
"It's a little different," said former Dolphins wide receiver and current senior vice president of special projects and alumni relations. "Ironically it sometimes puts organizations in a position where they gotta choose whether they wanna fish or golf, but it's an opportunity to pull everything in tighter. It's a long weekend, but when you can do everything on one day, and then have a big party culminating it at the end, you raise more funds, and also you have less of an expanse because you didn't throw two or three parties."
So the team split up, with some going fishing out in the open sea, with others staying on land and driving golf balls across the green of Crandon Golf. Nevertheless, despite the split attention, the team never lost sight of the united stand, regardless of where they were.
"It's a great event," said Dolphins cornerback Bobby McCain. "It's good to see people come out and enjoy themselves. Golfing, fishing, even with the party on Saturday, it's good to meet people and just be who you are around when they can see you without the pads on."
The first place winners of the golf tournament turned out to be Team Pepsi, with Mark Stokes, Gene Christman, Carl Carris and Ki-Jana Carter taking the prize: a flight on the team charter for a 2018 Dolphins away game.
But then the time came to head down to the Rickenbacker Marina, where the weigh-in for the fishing tournament began at 3:30, and it was there that many familiar faces made appearances for the first time in quite a while.
"It was awesome," said former Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline. "Nat Moore reached out, he reached out about coming back and my wife and I were on the first plane. He made it easy for us, it's so good to see younger players, so good to see older players and alumni, this event is always second to none so it's good to be a part of it."
Then there were alumni who had never taken part in the tournament, despite the event's 22-year history.
"It's a first time experience," said former Dolphins WR Chris Chambers. "I know the Dolphins have been doing this tournament for many years, one of the bigger events of the year ... everything I do is in the community, the Dolphins have always been great in the community, Nat Moore and the other alumni's been able to pull things together ... brings us closer as an organization as well."
Unity as an organization has been a major part of the Miami Dolphins' message this offseason, with all the talk of "culture change" and coming together as a team. The 2018 rookie class has been getting a crash course in that very concept, only this time it's more enjoyable.
"It's been awesome so far," said Dolphins tight end Durham Smythe. "Every event that we've done has been awesome but this one specifically, kinda getting out here and be able to do some fun things with people in the community. I actually love fishing. Did it all the time growing up, I actually have a trip planned in a few weeks. So I'm excited about it, it's awesome being around these fish and see how excited these people are getting about it."
The winners of the fishing tournament was Team Remix, with members Michael John Greisman, Rick Pruim and Alberto Suarez.
The event came to a close on Saturday night at the Miami Marine Stadium, where guests gathered to enjoy a live band, local fare, games, live auction and a fireworks show. This event is part of a four-year, $1 million dollar partnership between the Miami Dolphins and City Year Miami.
With all the work that went into this year's Fins Weekend, condensing all of the content into just one day, it's clear the franchise is more driven than other towards making a difference in the community. The culture change isn't just on the field it's off the field as well.
“This event is larger than just a fun day of fishing and golfing. It’s more than just a party and meeting the team you cheer for all season. This is a cornerstone event where the Miami Dolphins strive to do our part to make educational advances in our South Florida community,” Miami Dolphins Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Jehn said. “The Miami Dolphins Foundation has a commitment to being off the field champions. Fins Weekend is a reflection of the Dolphins’ work in leveling the playing field, aspiring to have teamwork at work."
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
Cancer is a disease that affects the world year-round, so it only makes sense that the Miami Dolphins - proud founders of the largest cancer fundraiser in all of professional sports - would work hard to raise funds for research all year long.
That is why on Friday morning, the Dolphins organization gathered together at Turnberry Isle Miami in Aventura to host their third annual celebrity golf tournament to continue raising funds for the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer center.
"It's a great day for us to be out here," said Jennifer Jehn, the Senior Vice President of the Miami Dolphins foundation. "We're really excited to be out here, have another chance to raise more money, find better cures, better outcomes, but also just to have people come out and fight for the cause and have a great time."
And great times were indeed had, though many of the participants readily admitted that they were not very good at golf, Dolphins cornerback Bobby McCain even joked that he might even become the laughingstock of the tournament because his golf game was nothing to be impressed by.
"I'm terrible," he joked. "I went to Topgolf a couple of times, I got a baseball swing so I'll veer to the right a little. I've played golf maybe once in my life on a course, it's exciting to come out and see the guys, and see actual pros play and see guys that are actually pretty good, and me myself, I might be the laughingstock of the tournament."
Thankfully, the cause being fought for did not require McCain or any of the other celebrities who came to support to actually be good at the game of golf. All that mattered was that they were, and their presence and support has done wonders over the past several years, as the DCC has raised over $20 million dollars since its inception back in 2011.
"This is my first year, so I'm happy to be out here, happy to be a part of this great event," said running back Kenyan Drake, whose golf background - much like McCain - only consists of some Topgolf experience. "And I'm not even good at that, so I'm gonna be just driving the golf cart around so that's gonna be my expertise today."
Along with McCain and Drake, celebrity golfers who joined in with the participants included Dolphins coaches Charlie Bullen, Frank Bush, Brian Fleury ,Rusty McKinney; alumni players Dick Anderson, Ronnie Brown, Troy Drayton, Darryl Fullington, Bob Greise, Nat Moore, Bryant Salter, Darryl Williams; and current players Chase Allen, Jake Brendel, Jesse Davis, Davon Godchaux, Matt Haack, Xavien Howard, Ja’Wuan James, Reshad Jones, Drew Morgan, Eric Smith, Vincent Taylor and Sam Young.
In the case of Young, the event is more than just another event that the team hosts, it holds a special place in his heart.
“The DCC and raising the funds for Sylvester, for me, holds a special place,” said Young. “Myself and my family, as a lot of families, have been impacted one way or another by cancer. And the work they’re doing at Sylvester, this is just a small part of contributing and helping to find a cure.”
Truly, the battle seems never-ending. Everyone, whether they are aware of it or not, directly or indirectly, have been affected by cancer at some point in their lives, and as long as there's a battle to be fought, the Dolphins will be doing their part in it, leading the charge for the world of sports.
"Cancer is such a terrible disease," said Nat Moore. "You're always fighting to raise more money, to get better research, to hopefully one day stop the dreaded disease."
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
On Tuesday afternoon, high school students from across South Florida came together to let their voices be heard, as the Jason Taylor Foundation continued their month long hosting of their fourth annual Louder Than A Bomb Poetry Festival presented by Nova Southeastern University and UPS.
This April 3rd round was the South Florida Preliminary Bouts, and was hosted at four different locations, including the Little Haiti Cultural Complex, the Miramar Cultural Center, PlugIN Karaoke in Hallandale Beach, and Ted's at YoungArts on Biscayne Boulevard.
During this festival, students are able to let their voices be heard among their peers, with heavy messages involving - and ranging from - suicide, global warming, abusive parents, social anxiety, and many more.
“This is without a doubt one of my favorite times of the year,” said former Dolphins legend and Hall of Fame DE Jason Taylor. “Each and every day we are witness to the power of young voices and Louder Than A Bomb Florida showcases this power on dynamic stages and in spectacular venues. I love that our reach continues to expand and that LTABFLA can bring so many youth from different backgrounds together to celebrate their stories, strengthen their schools and transform communities.”
Since its inception in 2012, LTABFLA has been activated in over 65 schools and touched the hearts of over 1,200 students; Melissa Dorce of McArthur High School's "Express the Arts" - who shared a poem about all of the missing children posters and how it impacts her - is certainly no exception.
"It was amazing," she said. "Seeing all these poets and their amazing stories, and it just makes you happy to appreciate life, strive to do better, work hard for everything you want in life, and never give up."
Even the organizers, such as Heather "HeRo" Wells, have had their lives changed by the platform that LTABFLA offers.
"I started out as a coach, and then I became a coordinator for my county, and now I'm the recruiter for the whole state." said Wells. "Every year it touches my heart more and more, when you think you've heard the best poem you're ever gonna hear, the next year is just gonna bring more. It's absolutely amazing."
Though some incredible material has already been shared, things are only just getting started for this year's LTABFLA. The next set of preliminaries will take place on April 12, culminating into two sets of final rounds between all of the winners on April 20-21. There is an old saying that goes like this: "Save the best for last."
One can only wonder what awaits everyone at the end of the festival.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
PRESS RELEASE: BankUnited & Miami Dolphins’ Jarvis Landry Present South Florida Student With $1,000 Award
Miami Dolphins Wide Receiver Jarvis Landry and BankUnited, a proud corporate partner of the Miami Dolphins, presented 15-year-old Turner Technical Senior High student Shannon Charlotin with a $1,000 cash prize at a reception and meet-and-greet held recently at the bank’s Miami Lakes headquarters.
Charlotin, a student at the Miami high school, wrote the grand-prize winning essay as part of the 4 Downs for Finance financial literacy program sponsored by BankUnited, which offers students a chance to kick-start their own personal savings. Throughout the regular football season, South Florida students were encouraged to access age-appropriate money tips online and submit an essay on a financial literacy topic. Weekly winners received an autographed football and were entered to win the $1,000 grand prize and a visit with Landry.
“BankUnited is pleased to honor Shannon Charlotin. At only 15, she already understands the importance of saving for retirement,” said Thomas M. Cornish, BankUnited COO. “Shannon wrote a thoughtful essay on how she handles her money and the value she places on saving and giving, reminding us through her words that ‘the essence of money is not just to spend it, but for utility, security and enjoyment.’”
Photo Credit: Miami Dolphins
In years past, the Miami Dolphins Cancer Challenge has become a staple of cancer research fundraising, so much so that the event has grown to become the largest of its kind in not just the National Football League, but in all of professional sports, a milestone that the organization could not be more proud of.
"I think that just shows you how great the Miami Dolphins' commitment to the community is," said senior vice president of special projects and alumni relations and former Dolphins WR Nat Moore. "The fact that we are the biggest fundraiser in the NFL, the fact that the Miami Dolphins are able to partner with the University of Miami and their medical facilities, I mean it shows you the collaboration of what can be done when people put their minds together for the same cause.
"And we just think it's going to continue to grow, we're patterned after another event, and we've seen what they've been able to do over a period of time, so hopefully as they grow, we'll continue to grow, and hopefully one day we'll be able to catch and surpass them."
In just eight years, the Dolphins Cancer Challenge has managed to raise over $22 million dollars, with every cent of that money being donated to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in South Florida, all for the sake of cancer research and finally finding a way to end the tragic disease once and for all.
While the event itself has not changed much in recent years, the Miami Dolphins did place more emphasis on survivors this year, putting the focus on those who have fought the disease and won, and everyone who has done so has a story of inspiration to share.
"My story was very scary," said Camille Moses, who is on the patient and family advisory council at Sylvester. "I came to Sylvester with stage four pancreatic cancer, and I am today - after 17 months of chemo - I'm cancer free since July of 2013. I was very scared, because my mother died of pancreatic cancer when I was only 24, so I knew I was in big trouble. But then what happened was I came to Sylvester and I got the best treatment, and I'm alive, strong and healthy and here to do DCC, my third one."
Over 250 of the 4,000 DCC participants are cancer survivors themselves, and there was a large turnout of Dolphins players who came out to show their support, including defensive end Andre Branch, whose stepmother is a survivor of breast cancer.
Then there's former Dolphins wide receiver and legend Mark Duper, who himself is also a cancer survivor.
"Every year I try to make this run," said Duper. "It puts a toll on my body, but you know that's something special. I try to participate because it's for a good cause. Sylvester saved my life, I really believe that."
Duper went on to say that when he was first diagnosed with cancer in his kidney, the first thought that came to him was his immediate family.
"My first reaction was I thought about my immediate family, my kids, and I thought about my other significants, I just really thought about all the people I was going to leave behind." he said. "I didn't think negative about it, I just thought positive about it, said it is what it is, let's just see what I can do to prevent it and let's just see what I can do to keep my life going."
Duper underwent surgery and the rest was history, but there are so many other stories that don't have that happy ending, and that's why the Dolphins are continuing to do this challenge year after year, putting more and more effort into it just like the late Jim 'Mad Dog' Mandich would have done.
The event technically began on Friday night, with the kickoff party at Hard Rock Stadium. Then on Saturday morning, the over 4,000 cancer fighters took off from distances ranging from 14 to 100 miles from five different points in South Florida - the Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University in Davie; Esplanade Park in Fort Lauderdale; the Watsco Center in Coral Gables; Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton; and of course Hard Rock Stadium itself.
As participants began to trickle into the stadium, the atmosphere grew steadily until it was time for the finale event, where riders and guests alike were treated to a full concert from Big Head Todd and the Monsters, as well as the Goo Goo Dolls.
Fittingly enough, both bands have also been touched by cancer.
"I can't talk specifically about who in my family it is because I don't think they would appreciate it, but to sit in the car with her and for two hours driving to the hospital or the treatment center and watching her get better has just been an amazing thing," said the lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls, John Rzeznik. "The treatments have come so far so fast. To know that people now can get cancer and they can get treated and then go on with their lives is pretty amazing. Pretty amazing to see how fast how things are growing."
And that growth is, of course, in large part thanks to the contribution that the Dolphins make each and every year to the cause.
"This is just a tremendously important event for cancer research and the Dolphins' involvement makes it really special," said Dr. Edward Abraham, the CEO of UHealth. "We couldn't do it without them. The funds that we raise with this event touch every aspect of cancer care, from the research and discovery efforts to treating patients, helping their families, supporting them and reaching out to our communities. It's really very, very special. It couldn't be duplicated without the help of the Dolphins."
It is no secret that the Miami Dolphins are one of the most - if not the most - involved teams in all of professional sports when it comes to making the world a better place. With all of the advancements in cancer treatment that has come about thanks to their efforts, the number of victims has fallen while the number of survivors have increased; with any luck, soon cancer will be nothing but more than a painful memory.
Until then, we can all celebrate the many survivors who are now taking their experience and helping others fight their battles, spreading the word that if they can do it, anyone can do it.
Perhaps it was Big Head Todd and the Monsters guitarist Jeremy Lawton who put it best: "It's hard to find someone who doesn't have a cancer story or survivor story or have a six-degree connection to a cancer story. It's easy to find a survivor."
And we call all be grateful for that.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
If there is one thing that the Miami Dolphins and the members of their organization - both past and present - do exceedingly well, it is go out into the South Florida community and work to make the lives of those less fortunate, better.
That is precisely what happened on Monday evening, as the Jason Taylor Foundation held its 14th Annual Ping Pong Smash Tournament in an effort to raise money in order to facilitate the personal growth and empowerment of South Florida’s children in need by focusing on improved health care, education and quality of life, as per the mission of the foundation.
But this time, instead of Jason Taylor going up against Mike Pouncey, which has been the focus for the past several years, Pouncey had a new opponent, his teammate Jarvis Landry.
"This year I get to take a step back a little bit, Pouncey was with me last year, it was J.T. versus Pouncey, we won't talk about who won or lost because it wasn't me." said former Dolphins DE and recent Hall of Famer Jason Taylor. "This year we got Jarvis Landry joining us so it's Pouncey versus Landry. I get to take a step back and be the promoter, there's no money in this for me but there's a lot of money in it for the foundation."
Landry, who is stepping up to take a starring role in this event, expressed his pleasure over being able to take a starring role in the tournament.
"I honestly went through Pouncey, J.T. [Jason Taylor], I had an opportunity to talk to him about it, have the opportunity to - like J.T. said earlier - use our platform to touch lives, to do things that are passionate to our heart, to raise money for both of our causes as well."
And raise money they did, as nearly $50,000 dollars were raised for the Jason Taylor Foundation - in conjunction with Team Pouncey, center Mike Pouncey's own foundation - with nearly 100 kids from the Dade and Broward Counties in participation to watch the competition and enjoy the clinic put on by UPS and the Fun Zone set up by Best Buy.
Several other athletes and celebrities were in attendance as competitors, including wide receiver Jakeem Grant, tight end MarQueis Gray, defensive back Torry McTyer, former Dolphins Jim Jensen, Nat Moore, Troy Drayton and Channing Crowder, ESPN Personality Israel Gutierrez, former Heat center Alonzo Mourning, and last year's champion - linebacker Kiko Alonso.
Alonso, for his part, has shown that as well as being a very aggressive linebacker on the football field, he is also an excellent Ping Pong player as well, having made it to the finals two years in a row. This second year, however, Alonso was unable to come away with a second consecutive championship, as Gary Nicklaus - son of former legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus - beat Alonso and his Ping Pong partner out for the championship.
Though it may be a competition, there is no questioning that all of this is done in good fun, and as long as the mission was accomplished - which the near $50,000 dollar turnout clearly says it did - then everyone in that arena was a champion for a much grander reason.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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