Posts Tagged ‘Jerome Baker’

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.”

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.”

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