Across from the disassembled basketball hoops inside the upper-level Don Taft University Center practice court, Dolphins running backs Daniel Thomas and Jahwan Edwards sat at the first of five autograph stations, greeting and posing for photos with hundreds of season-ticket holders at Sunday’s Finatic event.
As we scanned the names of current Miami players and alumni listed on the metallic boards – claiming a spot in a line that stretched outside the gymnasium to meet former fullback Lousaka Polite and newly-acquired cornerback Byron Maxwell – a Dolphins staffer made an announcement that sent half the crowd rushing for the side exit.
It turned out, the player whose name and number coated the backs of nearly every other jersey at the session made an unexpected appearance. Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry was a surprise guest, and word spread quickly as more and more fans dashed through the narrow hallway and into the adjacent auditorium.
By the time Charlie and I grabbed a football, a glove and a DolfansNYC hat in hopes of snagging No. 14’s signature, the line had twisted around a half-dozen barricades and extended past the bathrooms in the club level area. An usher immediately informed us that Landry – like all of his teammates – was on a tight schedule from 12 to 1 p.m., and we weren’t guaranteed autographs.
Of course, we decided to wait, anxiously staring as the seconds ticked away on the clock and jubilant fans at the front of the line smiled and high-fived Miami’s top playmaker, decked in his aqua jersey and white cargo shorts.
In the meantime, Charlie treated everyone nearby to nearly an hour of “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” YouTube clips on my phone, while Top-40 hits from all decades blared through the speakers as AARP Foundation volunteers packed a million meals on the lower level.
We inched our way to within 20 people of the autograph station, but once the clock struck one, Landry mouthed, “I’m sorry” as he was promptly whisked away by event coordinators.
Our setback didn’t last too long, however, when we found out that during our hour-long wait, Michelle acquired signatures and video shout-outs from nearly every other player in attendance, including Sam Madison, Polite and Maxwell.
Minutes later, long snapper John Denney took Landry’s former seat and posed for a photo with us, wiping away any lingering feelings of disappointment.
Check out a compilation of past and present Dolphins thanking DolfansNYC for their undying support below. We’re looking forward to hearing everyone in the stands at #MetLifeTakeover, so stay tuned for ticket sales info!