Dolphins News Archive

2020 Draft Recap

Sunday, April 26th, 2020
2020 NFL Draft
Look Mom, I’m Famous!

I love the NFL Draft. Dolfans NYC used to do group trips every year when the Draft was in NYC. I went to Dallas a couple of years ago and I was supposed to be in Vegas for the Draft before the coronavirus messed everything up. Even with the virus I still ended up on TV when Tua was picked! But with all that said, I am the last person who should be doing a Draft recap.

I don’t watch a lot of college football, and even if I did I still could never be one of those Draft obsessed fans. I learned years ago that any time I get obsessed about a player they would end up on another team. Even this year I got really into the Tank for Tua thing and started watching Alabama games only to be crushed when he got injured. Ironically him getting hurt was the only way we were able to land him, but the point remains. I try not to pay any attention to the Draft, until it starts.

That being said, I might not be an expert on the Draft, but I do know a lot about the problems the Dolphins have and I think the Dolphins did a great job of addressing them. I had a few disappointments, but nothing I can complain about too much. For example I would love to have seen us keep trading picks back to pick up 2021 selections. But we have a lot of holes and already had nine picks next year so it’s hard to complain. We did end up trading one of our 7th round picks for a 6th rounder next year which I was happy to see.

Before I give you my quick take on the picks I should mention that it’s cool to see an obvious strategy from Grier as he picked a number players who either didn’t live up to their potential or had injuries that caused them to fall. It’s a risky strategy but you can see that the Dolphins are really focusing on 2021. They picked players that they could spend a year molding. I have a feeling our 2021 Draft picks are going to be much more polished day one starter types. The three year plan is really taking shape. Even the trade for running back Matt Breida is a perfect example. He’s a player who did really well with limited touches on a one year contract. If he plays great you can resign him and if not you have a stop gap and can draft his replacement early next year. It was a perfect solution to not being able to get one of the top tier RBs early.

Okay, let’s do this.

Pick #5: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama – I have no interest in any more arguing about what QB the Dolphins should target. Tua has more upside than any other player in the draft and we didn’t even have to give anything to move up. Let’s just pray he works out and the Dolphins their answer at quarterback for a long, long time. What a moment.

Pick #18: OT Austin Jackson, USC – While I loved the Tunsil trade, giving up Minkah Fitzpatrick was hard to swallow, but I thought the Steelers were going to be a lot worse than they were. The 18th pick was a tough one with all the elite OTs gone and my personal pick Jerry Jeudy gone as well (OL is way more of a need but how fun would a Tua/Jeudy combo been?). It seems like a consensus that the Dolphins reached here with Jackson, but we got a very good player that had an off year after donating bone marrow to his sister. My hope is that by 2021 he will be much stronger and ready to protect Tua’s strong side for years to come.

Pick #30: CB Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn – I don’t know anything about Igbinoghene but people I trust seem to absolutely love him. He was a WR two years ago and was still a shutdown corner. He could improve so much with that one more year under his belt. And for those upset we picked a CB when we have Howard and Jones already, just remember how many injuries we have had in the secondary in the past and how often we are in nickel and dime defenses. Plus a dominant secondary makes up for a questionable pass rush.

Pick #39: OL Robert Hunt, Louisiana-Lafayette – I was saying on Twitter that if the Dolphins drafted nothing but linemen after Tua I would be happy and I am not sure that I was joking. This is how you build a football team. Hunt is a versatile lineman who can play tackle or guard and if he works out he could be protecting Tua’s blind side for years, and if not that versatility gives us a great depth option like Jesse Davis.

Pick #56: DL Raekwon Davis, Alabama – I am very happy to see us drafting linemen on either side of the ball. We have some players I like up front but we were still garbage against the run and hopefully Davis will help with that. Plus being the second player on our team named after the rapper Raekwon is honestly incredible. Wu Tang forever!

Pick #70: S Brandon Jones, Texas – I was hoping we would get a safety earlier but please do yourself a favor and watch some Jones highlights. The man can tackle. Safety is my favorite position on the field and I just love seeing people get crushed by a safety who is running full speed up field. Nothing would make me happier than Jones making me forget that Fitzpatrick was ever on the team. (BTW Reshad Jones is still a free agent and if we resigned him that would give us 3 Jonese in the secondary.)

Pick #111: G Solomon Kindley, Georgia – Keep drafting linemen! Kindley is an absolute beast and the Dolphins must love him because they gave up two picks to get him. He’s apparently a fantastic pass blocker only giving up four sacks in over 900 attempts. He’s also very fast and very mean and will hopefully become a fixture at left guard for the Dolphins.

Pick #154: DL Jason Strowbridge, North Carolina – Strobridge is an athletic run stopping lineman who can play inside or out. He’s also from South Florida which is always cool. He should perfectly compliment the man who was chosen 10 picks after him. He also blocked four kicks in college which could be a great added bonus.

Pick #164: EDGE Curtis Weaver, Boise State – A lot of people are talking about Weaver being the steal of the draft. PFF had him as the 26th player on their draft board and we got him 138 picks later. An undersized pass rusher who can come in on passing downs to spell a player like Strowbridge and just line up and go after the QB. We got one of the best pass rushers in college football in the 5th round (although we did give up a 7th to move up for him) and hopefully he will turn out a lot better than some of our recent DE selections.

Pick #185: LS Blake Ferguson, LSU –  This was the only pick I had a problem. I loved John Denney so much and I was so disappointed to see him go, but he was replaced by a hilarious dude named Taybor who is a big gamer and Tweets constantly. He was so much fun to have on the team, especially because I don’t remember him making any mistakes as a long snapper and I presume on a league minimum salary. Drafting someone, even with a 6th round pick, means you are spending more money and way more resources on a position that can be filled cheaply. I was hoping Taybor would have a chance to compete but I literally got a text in the middle of writing this article telling me he had been cut. Farewell young prince!

Pick #246: WR Malcolm Perry, Navy – If you want to enjoy some highlights watch Perry’s. He played QB, WR and RB in college and does nothing but take footballs to the house. The guy is a scoring machine. 7th round picks don’t usually work out so you might as well draft a guy with a ton of upside. If his game could translate to the NFL he could be so much fun to have as a slot receiver or a third down back…. and just think of the trick plays!

Tua Tagovailoa: Joining Dolphins Is “Dream Come True”

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020
Tua Tagovailoa Zoom Press Conference
Tua Tagovailoa address Dolphins media in a Zoom press conference. (Yes, I used my son’s iPad.)

When the smokescreen finally cleared on Thursday night, after months of speculation and endless rumors, the Dolphins landed their quarterback of the future.

Flanked by his parents and siblings inside his Alabaster, Ala. home, Tua Tagovailoa slid a black Miami Dolphins cap on his head and a lei around his neck, after officially joining the Dolphins as the No. 5 pick in the NFL Draft.

For Tagovailoa, hearing his name called by the commissioner was “a dream come true” for him and his family. Now that he’s a member of the Dolphins, the next step is building camaraderie with his new teammates and soaking in knowledge from the veterans.

“The most important thing is probably getting everyone’s phone numbers on the team and creating relationships, maybe starting with the quarterbacks,” he said.

“(Ryan Fitzpatrick) has so much knowledge of the game. I think it’s best that I pick (his brain) … question him and learn from him.”

Tagovailoa’s star talent was never in question. In nine games last season, Tagovailoa, the most efficient quarterback in college football history, threw for 2,840 yards, 33 touchdowns and three interceptions, while completing 71.4 percent of his passes. As a sophomore, the lefty signal-caller finished second in the Heisman Trophy race after tossing for 3,966 yards, 43 touchdowns and six interceptions.

But a lengthy injury history, most notably a dislocated right hip he suffered in mid-November, led many to believe the one-time favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick might slide toward the middle of the first round.

In the weeks leading up to the Draft, the former Alabama star was fully cleared by his surgeon and received positive reviews from a hip specialist in Nashville.

Tagovailoa recognized he won’t enter training camp atop the depth chart, but he fully expects to compete for the starting job with the incumbent Fitzpatrick.

“That has to be the mindset,” Tagovailoa said. “Competition is usually always healthy. You not only get better yourself, but you get the entire quarterback room better that way.”

The new franchise quarterback isn’t concerned about changing his jersey from No. 13 – “Dan Marino is the G.O.A.T.” he said – but rather following in the footsteps of the Dolphins legend.

“What I have to do is go out there and earn my respect,” Tagovailoa said. “I’m trying to prove this is the right decision for the organization.”

If the early consensus is any indication, Dolphins fans around the country are ecstatic with the pick. The Dolfans NYC Facebook page was littered with thumbs-up emojis and jubilant GIFs immediately after the announcement. In a poll asking if the team made the right move, the overwhelming majority voted ‘Yes.’

“He’s the best QB in the Draft,” one member said. “Let’s keep the young man healthy and see what he can do!”

Albert Wilson Makes Impact Through Philanthropy, Community Service Initiatives

Friday, 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

Wednesday, 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 Promote Harmony, Inclusion Though Football Unites Program

Monday, 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.”

Away from Cameras, Dolphins Give Back to Communities

Thursday, 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.”

Flo Rida Makes Hard Rock Stadium His House

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

Chart-topping rapper Flo Rida performed at a Dolphins game for the first time in his career.

Backstage in a nondescript dressing room, past the players’ locker rooms at the end of a winding, field-level corridor, Flo Rida scans the crowd from behind his diamond-encrusted, orange Gucci sunglasses and motions his two dancers to join him at each side for a post-concert interview.

Over the years, the Grammy-award-nominee has performed at countless sports venues, but there’s no doubt that playing a medley of his biggest hits during Sunday’s halftime show in front of his hometown fans, decked in an aqua No. 1 jersey bearing his name, is special.

Or as the “My House” rapper himself calls it, “epic.”

“To be home in the 305, I anticipated coming out here for a very long time,” he said. “I think this may be a pre-Super Bowl halftime performance for the Dolphins, you know what I’m saying? We have it down in the 305. It was so much fun.”

Born and raised in neighboring Carol City, Fla. – located 15 miles outside of Miami – the rapper, singer and songwriter was discovered by 2 Live Crew’s Fresh Kid Ice, who signed him as his hype man and later featured him as a guest on his 2004 album, “Freaky Chinese.”

Just three years later, Flo Rida’s breakout, chart-topping single, “Low” – the most-downloaded song of the decade – made him a household name. He’s since become one of the best-selling artists in the world, topping one billion plays on Spotify, with dozens of infectious party anthems.

His international success and penchant for penning smash hits have allowed him to celebrate with the Super Bowl-champion Denver Broncos in 2016, as well as kick off the 2017 NFL season at Gillette Stadium, but if there was any doubt his football allegiance still lies with the Dolphins, the 39-year-old quickly puts that to rest.

The locally-born-and-raised musician lists off a handful of his childhood favorites with a wide grin – Dan Marino, Mark Duper and Mark Clayton – and has close ties to a Coral Gables High School graduate and University of Miami alumnus currently suiting up for the Dolphins.

“Frank Gore, that’s my boy,” the rapper said. “I said, ‘What’s up?’ to him when we were out there on the field. It’s always a pleasure to see hometown (players) out here, representing, as well.”

Like all Dolphins fans, Flo Rida has enjoyed the team’s early-season success, and hopes that the next time he returns to the big stage in the Sunshine State, his favorite team will be playing in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium.

“This is something that, being a fan of the Dolphins, we always anticipate and we want to happen, so I’m definitely enjoying (this season),” he said. “We pray that the Dolphins are in the Super Bowl.”

Dolphins Stars Appreciate ‘Awesome’ Dolfans NYC Reception

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

Dolphins DB Minkah Fitzpatrick Celebrates a defensive stop.
Photo: Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post

A native of Old Bridge Township, N.J., Dolphins defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick expected to see around 30 close friends and family members in the lower-level seats at nearby MetLife Stadium.

The standout rookie didn’t envision over 1,000 aqua-and-orange-decked fans cheering for him and his teammates from the upper deck, their raucous reception rendering the return to his home state even more special.

“It was awesome,” Fitzpatrick said. “I saw a lot of people out there. At one point, they were chanting, ‘Go Dolphins!’ That was really cool hearing them, and that somebody at the stadium started that chant. It was a lot of fun.”

Fellow first-year player Jerome Baker, in awe of the inescapable crowd noise, reached out to Renzo Sheppard, Dolphins Football Communications Manager, to find out why Miami had such an overwhelming presence on an opposing team’s home turf.

“Even just pulling in, you could see the tailgating, you could see our fans were there, and I was just surprised by that,” Baker said. “Being that far north and having our fans there, it’s just a blessing. In the NFL, I really didn’t expect our fans to travel that well … I asked Zo, he ended up telling me (about Dolfans NYC), and I just decided to say something.”

“We feed off of their energy just like they feed off of ours,” Baker continued. “When we – the defense – were up there doing our thing, our fans were yelling, too. I wouldn’t say it felt like a home game, but you could definitely feel our fans.”

For two of the Dolphins’ top offensive stars, the ringing celebrations following Miami’s scoring drives didn’t go unrecognized.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah!” exclaimed wide receiver Albert Wilson when asked if he heard the cheers after his second-quarter touchdown catch gave Miami a 14-0 lead. “After the game, I did a message to everybody who came out. It was great to get so many Dolphins fans on the road. When you get there and you quiet the crowd, and you have your fans going loud, it definitely gives us a spark.”

Running back Kenyan Drake, who found the end zone on a six-yard run in the first quarter, echoed a similar sentiment.

“It was good to score one in front of the many fans we had up there,” he said. “Dolphins fans travel anywhere and everywhere, especially for a divisional-rivalry game such as the Jets. I feel like they make it a key thing to go up there and really try to pack out MetLife Stadium. It was cool just feeling that vibe when I was up there.”

Drake, much like his other teammates, reiterated his appreciation for the support, and hopes to capitalize on the positive momentum as the Dolphins head to Foxboro for a pivotal matchup against the Patriots on Sunday.

What’s his message to Dolfans NYC?

“Let’s keep it going! We’re 3-0, baby. Just enjoy the ride.”

Dolphins Honor SAVE Executive Director, LGBTQ Activist Tony Lima

Monday, September 24th, 2018

SAVE Executive Director Tony Lima (right) poses with Dolphins senior executive Jason Jenkins.

On Sunday, in a pregame ceremony on the Hard Rock Stadium field, the Miami Dolphins named SAVE Executive Director Tony Lima as the recipient of the NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award.

Surrounded by members of SAVE – South Florida’s leading organization dedicated to protecting people of the LGBTQ community against discrimination – and Dolphins Senior V.P. of Communications and Community Affairs Jason Jenkins, Lima proudly help up a crystal glass trophy and aqua No. 18 jersey bearing his last name on the back.

“As the longest-serving LGBT rights organization in the state, for SAVE, this is a huge honor,” Lima said. “We’ve been working so hard for the last 25 years to bring full equality to Floridians. With the Football Unites program, the Dolphins are not only celebrating and (being) inclusive of the LGBT community, but … are helping other organizations with incredible diversity, work on social justice as a whole.”

With a bigger platform to shine a light on longstanding issues of inequality and discrimination, Lima is hopeful the recognition will allow SAVE to reach an even wider audience.

“What’s most exciting for me, is that the Dolphins did this in front of 70,000 people who may not know that SAVE is out there doing the work that we do,” he said. “They may now have more of an open heart and an open mind to understand why it’s important to be inclusive of the LBGT community.”

During his five-year tenure with the organization, Lima, a Miami-born Cuban American, has focused on community outreach and advocating for policy change. Through the Prejudice Reduction Program, SAVE has spread its core mission of positive change through educational forums and business meetings.

Under Lima’s leadership, SAVE has made its most significant strides toward achieving equal rights for persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities throughout the organization’s 25-year history. In 2015, Lima championed SAVE in its successful federal suit against the state of Florida to legalize same-sex marriage, and in the year prior, lobbied for nondiscrimination protections for transgender individuals at the Miami-Dade County Commission.

SAVE has helped elect a record 75 pro-equality government leaders, as well as implemented a groundbreaking, nationally-recognized model aimed to reduce prejudice against the community.

“The model that we came up with is a deep-canvasing model, where in 12- to 15-minute conversations with a voter, it’s been proven scientifically that we can change their hearts and minds,” Lima said. “Just by having inclusive conversations, where people understand that they may have been discriminated (against) at some point, as well, and can see the connection between that and discriminating against the community. The great thing is that model is being used now across the country for not only LGBT rights, but women’s rights and immigrant rights, on a bunch of different levels and issues.”

SAVE is a grant recipient of the Dolphins Football Unites program, created by Owner Stephen Ross and players to help South Florida individuals and organizations maximize their impact and engagement. Through the launch of the program, the team is supporting SAVE’s campaign to reduce prejudice and expand the list of supportive community members.

“In this day and age, in this political climate, it’s not only about one community,” Lima said. “It’s about all the intersections that make up our community, whether that’s being a person of color, being a woman or being an immigrant. We have to stand together, shoulder to shoulder, and help uplift each other’s narratives.”

To learn more and make a donation, visit save.lgbt or connect with SAVE on Facebook.

Dolfans NYC Support is ‘Big-Time’ for Dolphins

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

When the Dolphins take the field in East Rutherford, N.J. on Sunday, players know the inter-division tilt won’t feel like a typical road game.

Not with over 1,000 aqua-and-orange-clad fans spread across four sections at MetLife Stadium, whose boisterous chanting and unwavering celebrations have left a lasting impression.

“It’s big-time,” said Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills. “It’s not too often that you go on the road and you have such a heavy presence in another stadium, so we always appreciate them.’”

For wide receiver and kick returner Jakeem Grant, the warm reception from one of the most significant contingents of Miami fans he’s witnessed at an away game has inspired him and his teammates.

“We feed off them,” Grant said. “They basically give us that momentum, with them cheering if we make a big play. We’re like, ‘Man, we can continue to do this!’ With the fans traveling with us and doing all those things, we greatly appreciate that.”

Throughout the eight previous #MetLifeTakeover games – especially the six triumphs – the loudest cheers have come from Dolphins faithful in attendance, who’ve shouted after every first down and belted out the team fight song following each touchdown.

 

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“I remember in the past, we’ve seen some good support there,” said linebacker Kiko Alonso. “It’s definitely critical to have our fans come to those games.”

Alonso won’t be disappointed on Sunday afternoon, as Dolphins supporters’ voices will echo through the stadium, rooting for him to come up with a game-changing interception and Stills to beat his defender for a crucial score.

The applause emanating from Sections 344 to 347 is not only audible on telecasts, but travels all the way down to the Dolphins sideline.

“We definitely hear it,” Stills said. “It’s nice to have our fans with us on the road … I always make sure to go over there and dap everybody up and tell them face to face, ‘Thank you for being here.’”

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