#MetLifeTakeover Updates

November 23rd, 2019

Hey guys, you might have noticed that our site has been screwed up for a couple of weeks. We had a bad malware attack that we have finally fixed, but it took a while. And don’t worry, since everyone pays with PayPal, we don’t collect any of your info that could have been hacked. We are actually going to be migrating to a new server this week so expect some more downtime while that happens. We have created a temporary #MetLifeTakeover website that will exist until the site is up and running again, but if you can see this post, click here to buy your Takeover tickets.

The other big news is that we are no longer doing a Giants catered tailgate. We unfortunately did not have enough interest.  We are still doing a tailgate but it is going to be a BYO situation. If you bought tailgate tickets you will be refunded if you haven’t been already. We are also still providing transportation to the game from our bar Slattery’s and still have bus tickets available for both games at the link above.

Lastly, I thought you guys might enjoy this video I found from our first ever Jets group event. MetLife Stadium didn’t exist yet and there were only 35 of us, so it wasn’t exactly a “Takeover” but it’s a fun look at our humble beginnings!

Albert Wilson Makes Impact Through Philanthropy, Community Service Initiatives

November 22nd, 2019
Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson hosts an annual Youth Skills Camp in his hometown of Fort Pierce, Fla. Image Credit: AWF – ithinkisee12.com

In Week 8, Dolfans NYC raised over $250 through raffles and donated a total of $500 to The Albert Wilson Foundation, which is committed to creating opportunities that will enhance the lives of children in foster care. 

After spending much of his childhood in the South Florida foster care system, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson understands, as well as anyone, the importance of giving back to youth in his community and helping to improve the lives of those less fortunate. 

So whether he’s devoting his time or money through the foundation he founded in 2016, Wilson begins each day by asking himself the same central question. 

“How can I make a foster kid’s day better?” 

That objective entails free, year-round activities for foster children, including youth camps, book drives and holiday giveaways. Wilson, who earned an athletic scholarship to Georgia State, also hopes to open doors for children seeking to continue their education outside of Florida. 

“Growing up in foster care, and (having) the opportunity to go to Georgia State, I feel like that was my opportunity to grow and become a better person,” he said. “I don’t want to limit the people in foster care, so our main goal is to get out-of-state scholarships to foster kids.” 

As an advocate for foster children, the Fort Pierce, Fla. native recognizes he can make a difference through face-to-face conversations with youngsters in need of guidance from someone who, not too long ago, was in their shoes. 

“If it’s just me going over and saying, ‘Hey,’ or if I have to go to a home and talk to the kids, or be that distant role model or that distant big brother for them,” he said, “I just try to (help) any way I can.” 

The stories he hears resonate with the 27-year-old, who’s experienced the same frustration and the same despair. 

Wilson was placed in foster care twice: for several months at age 6, and again from 12 until he aged out of the system at 18. During those years, while his parents were incarcerated, he shuttled between group homes and foster homes, too many to keep track, until finding security with the Bailey family in Port St. Lucie. 

“I love those guys. I met them, maybe a couple of days after the second time I went into the foster care system, when I was in eighth grade,” Wilson said. “I ended up living with them for maybe a year and some change; I want to say (until) my (sophomore) year of high school. They’re a great family. They took in tons of kids and ended up adopting eight.” 

When he speaks to foster parents nowadays, Wilson leans on his ongoing relationship with the Baileys, caring people who “do it the right way,” to provide a guideline of how the foster care system is ideally designed to work. 

During his stay, he found comfort and support, and more importantly, quickly learned to not blame himself for his circumstances. 

“(It’s important) to let the kids know that it’s not their fault that they’re in foster care,” Wilson said. “A lot of kids feel like it’s something they did wrong or they feel like they got the short end of the stick. I want to be out there and let them know that it’s totally the opposite. It’s not their fault and they definitely have the long end of the stick because someone who didn’t know you the day before had the faith and the love to bring you into their home and try to do their best to raise you.” 

In 10th grade, he moved in with Robert and Sherri Brown, parents of a high school friend, who he later learned were his cousins. By then, his parents were released from prison, but once Sherri completed her certification to become a foster parent, Wilson opted to remain with her, in Port St. Lucie, in order to stay in the same high school.  

Wilson knew returning to Fort Pierce, a city that, at the time, had one of the highest crime rates in the state, could jeopardize his long-held goal of reaching the NFL. As a dual-threat quarterback at Port St. Lucie, he began attracting college scouts at games.  

“Fort Pierce is a low-class neighborhood; everybody was just trying to survive and make ends meet,” he said. “Football was pretty much always my escape from that. Football was that one thing that was consistent to me.” 

Undrafted out of college, the 5-foot-9 speedster impressed at Chiefs rookie camp and earned his first contract. Four years later, he returned to South Florida, this time as a member of the Dolphins, with the platform to help foster children in the same kinds of unstable situations he once faced. 

Looking back, Wilson knows he’s one of the lucky ones, that few find one, much less two families as inviting and nurturing as the Baileys and Browns, without whom he likely never would’ve reached the pros. 

“For me, knowing how it is to be with a family, and just having that family support, it was awesome,” he said. “I’m trying to break the line to where (being in foster care) feels like family and doesn’t feel like you’re in a stranger’s home for years.” 

Wilson, an inspiration to innumerable adolescents, relays a simple message he hopes serves as motivation during challenging times. 

“I try to tell them it’s possible; that I did it, and your dreams can happen,” he said. “(I’m hopeful) I can (convince) them to go down the right path, and grow up and be whatever they want to be.” 

Dolphins’ Jason Sanders: ‘You Have to Accept the Pressure’ of Kicking in NFL

November 20th, 2019
Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders smiles after kicking his first game-winning field goal last season. Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Moments after recovering his own onside kick against the Bills, Jason Sanders, typically reserved and even-keeled, emerged with the football from the pile, pumped his fist and sprinted ahead to high-fives and pats on the helmet from his Dolphins teammates.

“You want to bring emotion to the game,” he said. “You want to use that as a momentum change in the game, as well, so if they see your kicker getting pumped, it might be a chain effect where we’re all pumped now.” 

Sanders’ rare display of enthusiasm was certainly understandable. Entering Week 11, NFL teams were successful on just one of the previous 29 onside-kick attempts; the Dolphins had two previous recoveries negated by offside penalties earlier this season. 

Despite running the play countless times in practice, Sanders wasn’t certain it would work in a game situation, considering the ball had to travel a precise distance, and bounce just right, for him to have a chance to seize it. But catching Buffalo off guard worked in his favor. 

“It’s designed to be a surprise kick, so if you get the frontline to take a step backwards, then you’re going to have a good step on it,” he said. “But the ball still has to go 10 yards … say, if I kicked it 13, 14 yards, that might’ve been too far and I might not have been able to get it.” 

Although Miami wasn’t able to capitalize on its next possession, No. 7’s clutch kick was the latest in a young career that’s already distinguished by standout performances. 

Last season, he converted on 18-of-20 field goal attempts (90 percent), the eighth-best percentage in the league and fifth-highest in Dolphins history. In Week 6 against the Bears, he nailed a 47-yarder on the final play of overtime to cap a Dolphins comeback victory. 

After making three kicks longer than 45 yards in a win against the Colts on Nov. 10, Sanders earned his first AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award. 

“I’ve been looking for a game like this this season, where it’s kind of, maybe a breakthrough to get things rolling, start getting on a little streak, maybe,” Sanders told MiamiDolphins.com. “I’m coming off, I’d like to say, a good year, so I’m trying to keep everything possible, the same. I know it’s worked and it helped me out [Week 10].” 

A 7th-round pick (229th overall) by Miami in 2018, the New Mexico alum seized the starting job after winning a training camp battle with fellow rookie Greg Joseph. Sanders learned early to block out all outside distractions and proved he wouldn’t get overwhelmed by any situation. 

“If you focus on yourself and focus on one kick at a time, you’re going to try to find good results,” he said. “You can’t worry about the competition or what’s happening outside of the ball coming off your foot.” 

A high-school soccer star, Sanders had his sights set on a career in the MLS, but decided to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, Andrew, the starting kicker on the football team. 

“My freshman teacher, who was also the (football) coach, liked how my brother was kicking, so he wanted me to go out there and try it,” said Sanders, who became the full-time kicker and punter as a junior. “All I did was play soccer growing up, and I thought that was going to be my route.” 

Sanders, in fact, expected to revert to soccer in college, but turned his full attention to the gridiron after earning a football scholarship offer from New Mexico, one of five schools to recruit him. 

The NFL may have seemed like a longshot early on, as Sanders didn’t attempt a single field goal as a backup in his first season, and connected on just 3-of-7 attempts as a sophomore. 

“My freshman year, I was only hitting kickoffs and I wanted to hit field goals, so that next year, I was focusing on trying to be the field goal kicker,” he said. “I think that kind of helped me, being in the present.” 

The following season, Sanders was nearly flawless, making 12-of-13 field goals, including 6-of-6 from 40 yards or more. As a senior, he hit 10-of-15, but nailed two game-winners from over 50 yards. 

Former Dolphins special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi saw potential in Sanders, who demonstrated his strong leg on long-distance field-goals, as well as booting the ball downfield on kickoffs; over his last two seasons at New Mexico, only 22 of his 132 kickoffs were returned. 

“I think I had a good mindset going my whole four years of college,” Sanders said. “I wasn’t thinking ahead, I wasn’t thinking about the future (in the NFL). I was focusing on what was happening now.” 

The second-year special-teamer hasn’t had as many chances to impress in 2019; his 13 field goal attempts and 14 extra-point tries are tied for 26th and 29th in the league, respectively.

But Sanders stays ready, no matter if he’s asked to split the uprights from 50 yards out, or give his team an extra possession with an onside kick.

“I’m just focusing on kicking a good ball,” he said. “No matter (the situation), you have to do your job and accept the pressure when you’re a kicker in the NFL.”

Dolphins Announce Play Football Week 11 Award Winners

November 17th, 2019

As part of Play Football, a program designed to celebrate youth football in South Florida, for each home game, the Dolphins identify the high school coach, high school player, youth player and team mom of the week.

In tribute to Don Shula’s 50th season with the organization, the high school coach of the week award honors individuals with long-standing tenures in the coaching community.

Each award recipient is presented with a plaque during an on-field ceremony,  receives tickets to a Dolphins home game, and earns acknowledgement in the game program and through the Dolphins’ social media platforms. The team of the week will also stand on the field during the national anthem.

The program concludes at the Dolphins-Eagles game on Dec. 1, during which the Dolphins will honor yearly award winners in each category, with the exception of the team of the year.

Week 11 Award Winners

  • High School Coach of the Week: Brian Dodds from Park Vista Community High School
  • High School Player of the Week: Gabe Taylor from Gulliver Preparatory School
  • Youth Player of the Week: Joe Dailey from Jupiter Mustangs of Jupiter Mustangs Pop Warner
  • Mom of the Week: Lakeria Phillips from the Pahokee Panthers 6U of Treasure Coast Pop Warner
  • Teams of the Week: Somerset Academy Silver Palms and Hialeah Gardens High School

Kenyan Drake Making Global Impact, One Smile at a Time

September 11th, 2019

Dolphins fans, far and wide, were all smiles when Kenyan Drake sprinted into the end zone as time expired to stun the Patriots last December. Over the summer, the fourth-year running back capitalized on the lasting popularity of the play since hailed as the “Miami Miracle” to put smiles on the faces of hundreds of children who may have never seen him play a single down.

Drake has served as an ambassador for Smile Train, a nonprofit organization that provides free cleft and palate repair surgery in more than 85 developing countries, for the last two years. During that time, he’s visited hospitals and local homes in Mexico and Brazil, hosted a cocktail dinner in downtown Miami, and led a three-mile walk in Long Island, N.Y. to raise awareness for the charity.

During his recent trip to Rio de Janeiro treatment centers, the 25-year-old, in conjunction with Smile Train, came up with a way to utilize his elevated NFL platform to get more people involved in the cause. He posted an offer to his 150,000-plus Twitter followers: anyone who’d donate at least $15 to his fundraiser over a five-day span would receive an autographed photo of his biggest football moment.

With Week 2 bringing the Patriots back to Miami for the first time since Drake’s miraculous score, Dolfans NYC is using the opportunity to assist his philanthropic initiative. On Sep. 15, Slattery’s Midtown Pub will hold a pledge drive and raffle off memorabilia, collect unused dental items and make “get well soon” cards that will be distributed to children who’ve recently undergone cleft operations. All proceeds will go directly to Smile Train.

Drake, who also wore custom shoes representing the charity during the NFL’s “My Cause My Cleats” campaign last season, was inspired to join Smile Train after learning about its mission and recognizing how he could make a difference.

“A smile is the first thing you notice, and I just like to use my opportunity to go out there and really help people see their potential,” he said. “I feel like I’m a champion for the vulnerable and for people who don’t have a lot of the things that people in other countries may have just because of the circumstances they were born in.”

Drake, a Smile Train ambassador, hosted a Miami event to help raise awareness and funds for children with untreated clefts. (Photo credit: Kenyan Drake / Twitter)

While touring international medical centers, he observed surgeries first-hand and helped spread positivity to children and their parents.

“When you go out there and give time and effort,” he said, “it gives them the ability to have a great (experience).”

In the days following his social-media campaign, the contributions, from the minimum $15 to over $250, kept pouring in, so Drake stayed busy signing in his free time, inscribing his name across stacks and stacks of 8×10 prints. There were too many to count, he said, but consider that just last week, he prepared the final 500 photos for delivery.

Drake set a $10,000 goal, enough to cover up to 40 surgeries; he raised nearly $14,000, and proceeded to personally match the total.

“I wanted to do that with my own funds to just show how invested I am in it,” he said. “I feel like my (position) definitely gives me the ability to impact the world.”

Among the prizes in Dolfans NYC’s upcoming raffle is a Dolphins mini helmet signed by No. 32. In addition, for every donated item and made card, members will receive a separate raffle ticket for a chance to win a football signed by Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas at the end of the season.

“It’s pretty cool to just be involved in that,” Drake said. “I feel that it’s definitely something worthwhile.”

Dolphins Promote Harmony, Inclusion Though Football Unites Program

September 9th, 2019

It’s just past 10 o’clock on Sunday morning, three hours before the Dolphins will kick off the 2019 season against the Ravens, and the North East plaza at Hard Rock Stadium is bustling with activity.

At the team’s fourth-annual Football Unites CommUNITY Tailgate, large overhead fans are whirling at full capacity, while a DJ shuffles between mid-1990s and early 2000s hip-hop classics – 2Pac and Ja Rule are the biggest crowd-pleasers – and radio-friendly Drake hits.

A behemoth foosball table in the right corner clicks and clacks, and to the left, an assembly line of young members from Davie Police Athletic League (PAL) and 5000 Role Models packs kits with hygiene supplies to distribute to those affected by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas.

Hot and cold food stations on the opposite end of the plaza are stocked with hamburgers, salads, chips and an assortment of sugary treats, and adjacent refrigerators are crammed with water bottles and soda cans.

“Our owner, Stephen Ross, our players and coaches paid for this tailgate with the idea of bringing four to five groups that would’ve never thought of connecting in their regular walks of life,” said Jason Jenkins, Dolphins Senior Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs. “South Florida is a melting pot of a lot of intersections, and we want to make sure that we’re reflective of all the groups that are coming here.”

The initiative is part of a series of community service projects planned for the 2019 season, which also include ride-along programs designed to foster positive communication between police and youth, as well as cultural tours through a partnership with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

While some of the Dolphins’ previous social-progress leaders, including Kenny Stills, a three-time Nat Moore Community Service Award winner, are no longer on the team, Raekwon McMillan, Bobby McCain, Jerome Baker, Albert Wilson and Xavien Howard are among the players who’ve carried on the legacy of their predecessors.

Dolphins alumni, including tailgate attendees Nate Garner, an offensive tackle from 2008 to 2014, and Ed Perry, a tight end and long snapper from 1997 to 2004, have also continued to be prominently involved in efforts to unite people of different races, genders, sexual orientations and identities through sports.

“Our players have been extremely supportive and active, not only financially, but with their time to the program,” Jenkins said. “We’re stewards in this community and this brand. We have this commitment and responsibility to make sure we can make South Florida united, make South Florida healthy and make South Florida more educated, as well.

“Our owner has been there every step of the way. (Vice Chairman, President and CEO) Tom Garfinkel really gave us the opportunity to lay out this vision, and it’s great that (we’re) seeing it come to fruition each and every day.”

Since its inception in 2015, the tailgate has grown organically, primarily through word of mouth, from 10 participating organizations to over 60.

Jenkins believes that’s only the beginning.

“Our capacity is limitless in what we want to do,” he said. “We believe in humanity, we believe in football having the ability to bring people together and we’re very fortunate to be able to provide these platforms to bring our youth together.”

Football Season Begins, 10th Anniversary Merch & Giving Back

September 5th, 2019

This is a very different Miami Dolphins team from the last time we updated our website. The Dolphins have had a full 25% roster overhaul in the short time since we first put #MetLifeTakeover tickets on sale. The team that is suiting up this Sunday vs the Ravens is going to have a lot of new faces and may not be the juggernaut we expect from the Miami Dolphins, but we’ve been through tough seasons once or twice before and I am hopeful that looking back in a few years this will be the best thing to happen to us since we drafted Dan Marino.

The reason we started Dolfans NYC is because football is more fun when you are watching it with other people. The wins are better, but maybe more importantly, the losses are a lot better. You get to commiserate (and perhaps get very drunk) with people who know what you are going through. There aren’t a lot of places where you can make new friends as an adult but I know there are Dolphins fans that I will talk to for the rest of my life because of this club.

10 years ago when we founded Dolfans NYC we expected a few dozen people to walk into our bar Third & Long but by kickoff there was a line out the door. A few years later Third and Long sadly closed and we moved to Slattery’s Midtown Pub and once again on week one we packed the place despite being three times the size of our old home. The #MetLifeTakeover started with 35 people and grew to 70 and then 200 then 750 and it’s averaged over 1000 for the last 5 years. It’s been one hell of a ride and despite the team on the field I am very excited for our 10th season.

To celebrate our 10th season we have a BUNCH of new merch designed by one of our members Jackie who moved upstate and as a going away present made a bunch of stuff for us. You might have seen our 10 Years logo already but you haven’t seen these new shirts. We created a MIAMI NORTH shirt and tank top in the Miami Vice colorway that will look as good in your all white Air Force Ones in NYC as it will walking down South Beach in flip flops. We also have a 10 Years iron on patch for your jerseys and we have two new hats that are in the works.

Miami North

For one week only (well more like 10 days) this stuff will be available to purchase online. Our regular merch store is closed while we are selling #MetLifeTakeover tickets because it’s impossible for us to deal with both at once, but next Sunday I am going to bring everything I need to ship home from Slattery’s and mail it out the next day. I don’t have time to be shipping constantly, but I can dedicate and afternoon to it. So if you want some of our new merch and you don’t live in the area here’s your chance to get some of our merch. We have our normal Dolfans NYC stuff in the shop as well. And remember, all proceeds go to charity. SHOP HERE.

Speaking of charity, for our 10th anniversary season, our goal is to donate $10,000 to charity and we will be making a donation to a different charity every week of the season. This Sunday we are doing a huge fundraiser for the Jason Taylor Foundation. They sent us a full sized Hall of Fame helmet signed by Jason that we will be raffling. We also have a signed ball that we will be auctioning off at Slattery’s. If you can’t make it to Slattery’s we are selling raffle tickets online as well. If you want a chance to win the helmet send $20 for every 5 tickets to DolfansNYC@gmail.com using PayPal. We will be drawing tickets during the 4th quarter of the Ravens game live on our Instagram so you can watch at home to see if you win.

Jason Taylor Signed Helmet

Lastly, I wanted to mention that after emailing them for months we finally heard back from the Giants about trying to buy group tickets. We don’t have anything set in stone because they have been very slow responding, but it looks like we are going to be able to buy a small block of tickets in the lower level. We will be selling them for $150 which is a lot more than our Jets seats, but at least we get to be near the field for a change. If you don’t have your Giants tickets yet, you might want to hold off for a bit. Feel free to email us (DolfansNYC@gmail.com) to get on our email list when the tickets go on sale. For now, get your Jets tickets here!

Okay, that’s it! Sorry for the longer than normal post, but just so excited for our 10th season of Dolfans NYC! See you guys on Sunday! Phins up!

 

 

2019 #MetLifeTakeover Tickets Are On Sale!

July 30th, 2019

This is what you have been waiting for! For the 10th anniversary of Dolfans NYC we are doing not one, but TWO #MetLifeTakeover events!

The big one of course is the Jets game December 8th. It’s our 10th anniversary celebration and such a huge deal for us. We are pulling out all the stops. We hope this is our biggest year ever. We will have exclusive merch for the Takeover, are giving out 1000 thunder sticks and we hope to have some special guests for the tailgate. We even got a bigger discount on tickets this year year if you order by August 15th. With the early bird discount the Jets game tickets are only $60!

The Giants game is December 15th and while we ARE NOT offering game tickets, we are doing a huge tailgate. Our catering partners Urban Tailgate are doing back to back weeks with us and if you go to both tailgates you can save a ton of money using our exclusive coupons.

We are also offering round trip transportation to both games from our bar Slattery’s Midtown Pub. Unfortunately prices have gone up a little bit, but with the $10 early bird discount on tickets, you can still get to and from the game plus a ticket for $100. Plus we will free have bagels and coffee waiting for you when you get to Slattery’s.

And remember Dolfans NYC is a non-profit, so any money we raise from these events goes back to charity. For our 10th season our goal is to donate $10,000 to charity and we need your help!

Click here to get your tickets to the #MetLifeTakeover!

2018 #MetLifeTakeover Video

December 10th, 2018

It’s finally here! The 2018 #MetLifeTakeover video took us forever to finish, but I think the results are worth waiting for. For the second year in a row the video was directed/edited by RizeOptix and hosted by comedian Oscar Collazos. We loved their work on the 2017 Takeover video and we were glad they could do it again. We have actually teamed up with RizeOptix again to work on something special for our 10th anniversary next year, but don’t tell anyone!

The video is of course a recap of the 2018 #MetLifeTakeover during our week 2 win against the Jets at MetLife Stadium. It features footage from our Saturday night pre-party at Slattery’s Midtown Pub, our massive tailgate and we got some pretty amazing footage from inside the game as well. In past years we didn’t have a ton of footage from inside the stands but this year we got some great stuff including footage from across the stadium where you can see how fully we took over the upper deck.

The video includes interviews with Dolphins alumni Mark Clayton, Mark Duper, Kim Bokamper, Joe Rose and Nat Moore who were all at the tailgate. Additionally there are interviews with Jason Jenkins who is one of our biggest supporters in the Dolphins organization, musician Solo D and a bunch of Dolfans. We unfortunately had to cut some of the fan interviews because we had so many, but you might see them as Instagram videos next year!

Before we get to the video I just wanted to give some shoutouts: The Dolphins organization for always supporting our club, the Jason Taylor Foundation for donating a signed JT jersey for our raffle (We ended up raising $2000 for the Foundation!), Urban Tailgate for doing all the hard work for our pregame party, Sailor Jerry for providing a ton of rum, Slattery’s as always for all the help on a day where we are actively taking people AWAY from their bar and of course everyone who came out, supported us, spread the word or donated anything to the charity. We have raised tens of thousands of dollars over the 10 years we have been doing this and we couldn’t do any of it without you guys.

See you guys next year for the 10th anniversary of Dolfans NYC! We will be doing TWO #MetLifeTakeovers as the Dolphins play both the Jets and the Giants next year!

Okay, it’s video time! Please share this with all your fellow Dolfans and let us know what you think! Oh, and make sure you watch until the very end!

 

Away from Cameras, Dolphins Give Back to Communities

November 22nd, 2018

Kenny Stills signs autographs for young fans. (The Palm Beach Post)

For Dolphins players, the job of a professional athlete doesn’t end when the gameday cameras stop rolling and the pads are hung up in the lockers.

During their free time, many give back to the communities that raised them, using their platforms and voices to make a difference in the lives of less-privileged families.

In addition to participating in nearly every philanthropic event the team has hosted since he arrived in South Florida four years ago, wide receiver Kenny Stills – a nominee for the 2017 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award – has spent each off day during the season working on innumerable charitable efforts.

“On any Tuesday, if you try to get a hold of him, you’re going to have to wait until five or six o’clock because he’s doing community stuff all day,” said Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase. “I’ve been impressed with how he’s made himself available, how much he tries to do.”

In the coming weeks, Stills plans to give away presents on “10 Days of Stillsmas,” an initiative he personally launched last season to spread more joy to his fans.

“This will be the second year we try and sponsor families that need help,” said Stills, who personally selects and pays for the presents. “We usually do a meal and then give gifts for 10 kids. We’re in the process of finding and selecting the families. I’m sure there are other things that will come up for Thanksgiving, too. I’ll be sure to share those things on my social media.”

Nearly a year ago, linebacker Kiko Alonso watched helplessly as Puerto Rico, his father’s birthplace, was devastated by Hurricane Maria. No. 47 immediately started a fundraising campaign to help victims in both Puerto Rico and Miami, with a goal of $150,000. Alonso pledged the first $25,000, which was subsequently matched by the Miami Dolphins Foundation; in all, the relief fund generated over $165,000.

The recovery efforts are still ongoing, and Alonso stresses the importance of lending a helping hand, whether it’s for those impacted by natural disasters or unable to find food and shelter in local townships.

“There’s just people out there who need help everywhere, and there are a lot of people out there who aren’t as fortunate as some of us,” he said. “Everybody in the NFL is very blessed, so I think it’s important for anybody in our shoes to give back. I think it’s just the least we can do.”

Hosting food drives, supporting Boys and Girls Clubs or working with police departments may not generate as many headlines as game-winning touchdowns, but players recognize that even a gesture as small as tossing a football with a group of kids can leave a lasting impression.

“You always want to pay it forward,” said safety T.J. McDonald, who has regularly partaken in team community efforts, including the Dade vs. Broward All-Star Game and the Dolphins Cancer Challenge, as well as numerous other events during his time with the Rams.

“We get a lot of fame … (for) what we do and who we are, (but) we wouldn’t be who we are without other people. So, it’s very important to be that positive influence that some of us had when we were young. Just being that face there, it lets them know that it’s possible. That was big for guys like me growing up.”

Cornerback Walt Aikens understands the importance of having that kind of support and guidance first-hand.

Beginning at age six, the Charlotte, N.C. native played youth football for the Police Athletic/Activities League, which aims to strengthen character, build bridges between police and communities, and prevent juvenile crime through recreational, mentoring and educational opportunities.

Aikens credits the organization for playing a critical role in his on- and off-field development, and for keeping him on the straight and narrow path as an adolescent.

“It helped me in so many ways,” he said. “What PAL does is help kids like me stay out of trouble.”

In May, the 27-year-old was named an official spokesperson for National PAL, and proudly serves as an inspiration for impressionable children – including his younger cousin – who faces similar kinds of hardships or roadblocks.

“I can now go and talk to kids all over the place and just share my testimony with them, because it wasn’t always easy,” he said. “I persevered and made it to where I am today, and I just want to give back to them and let them know they can do whatever they want to do. It doesn’t even have to be sports, it can be anything.”

As Stills explains, the opportunity to impact the lives of others isn’t just something that comes with the territory of being an NFL star.

Said No. 10: “It’s everything.”

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