Posts Tagged ‘Kenny Stills’

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.’”

Dolphins Aim to Unite Community Through Football

Monday, September 10th, 2018
Dolphins executive Jason Jenkins (center) greets members of NOBLE at Sunday’s Football Unites Tailgate.

Two hours before the Miami Dolphins kicked off the 2018 season on the field, the organization proudly launched the third year of its Football Unites Tailgate – a Stephen Ross-led initiative aimed to fortify relationships between local community leaders, youth and law enforcement – outside the Hard Rock Stadium gates.

Hip-hop music blared through the speakers as a throng of young fans skipped their way past the Joe Robbie Statue, around a decorative white picket fence and inside a reserved section at the North East Plaza. With a backdrop of colorful murals overlooking the festivities, early attendees lined up for lunch at the hot meal stations before spinning the knobs at an oversized Dolphins-themed foosball table.

Each year, the camaraderie, food and entertainment have brought together diverse groups to the pre-game celebrations, which also provide educational components intended to spark conversation and build positive relationships between fans of different races, genders, sexual orientation and identities.

“Our owner, Stephen Ross, created RISE – Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality – and with that, his goal is to use sports to drive social progress and make meaningful change,” said Jason Jenkins, Dolphins Senior V.P. of Communications and Community Affairs. “So, there’s going to be a lot of fun, but there are also educational opportunities designed to bring people together and learn about each other. They’re going to do a scavenger hunt, they’re going to have discussions and they’re going to talk about themselves. We want to bring all these diverse groups together that make up the culture of South Florida, with sports as that backdrop.”

Over a dozen organizations have partnered with the Dolphins, including 5,000 Role Models, North Miami Beach Police Athletic League, Urban League of Broward and NOBLE, whose leaders have recognized the program’s immense impact on their community.

“This initiative is great because it gives the kids an opportunity to come out and mingle with each other, and also meet with officers,” said Timothy Belcher, who serves as President of NOBLE, P.A.L. Coordinator and a mentor with 5,000 Role Models. “We’re trying to bridge the gap between the officers and the youth, to make this a better [community] for everybody. We want to teach our kids responsibility and direction as far as being successful in life.”

The tailgate is one of a handful of initiatives that culminated from a 2016 town hall co-hosted by the Dolphins and R.I.S.E., during which players – lead by Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas, Arian Foster and Jelani Jenkins – and local leaders addressed ways to combat issues of racial inequality and community discord.

“We brought in community members, law enforcement, our players and our executive staff,” Jenkins said. “It was really about, what can we do to bring about positive change and maybe serve as an example for others throughout the country? Everyone came in with a positive vibe and an open mind. They listened to each other’s points of view, and asked, ‘What are some actual things that we can do?’”

At the suggestion of law enforcement officials, Dolphins players – most recently, Davon Godchaux and Kenyan Drake – have participated in ride-alongs throughout the community with local officers as a sign of unity.

In addition, the Dolphins have arranged cultural tours and created scholarship programs, while continuing to welcome organizations championing human rights and community justice each gameday.

“It’s really about this theme that football can unite people,” Jenkins said. “We all want the same thing. The police officers, all they want to do is come home to their families. All the community wants is to live in a society where they’re not judged by their race, sex, gender orientation or identity … We want to make South Florida healthier, educated and more united. We feel events like these can help us with that goal.”

Son’s Time to Shine at Dolphins Practice

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

It took me 26 years to earn my first press credential. It took my son less than five.

Charlie – a laminated media pass dangling from a lanyard around his neck down to his knees – joined a group of Dolphins fan website moderators for a team-organized Web Weekend Training Camp event last Sunday.

At the conclusion of a closed practice, each attendee was granted field access to interview a select group of players, wandering down a short flight of stairs from our covered riser to a walkway through the bleachers seats to a designated area behind the left goal post.

While I’d normally join the scrum during media availability sessions to ask right tackle Ja’Wuan James and center Daniel Kilgore about preseason takeaways and the offense’s progression, I took in the moment from the back of the assembled group. Standing under the Florida summer sun and scant, grey-white cloud bubbles hovering above Nova Southeastern University, I soaked in a rare opportunity to cover a sporting event with my son.

Besides, when I tried to explain the significance of the special occasion to Charlie, he asked if we’d be talking to “the dolphins that swim in the water.”

But what he lacked in football experience and knowhow, he made up for in enthusiasm and encouragement. He giddily high-fived James and Kilgore, who bent down to their knees to greet the youngest media member in attendance. As the players walked off the field, he raised his arms in the air and chanted, “Go, Dolphins!” and innocently broke a media rule by snagging autographs for his personal collection.

Before departing, we stopped to greet Kenny Stills, who’s renowned for staying long after every practice to sign and take pictures with fans, just as he did for us last season. True to form, the Dolphins wide receiver smiled and chatted with an animated Charlie, who collected his second lifetime autograph from No. 10 – except this time, on a miniature toy ukulele that rarely leaves his side.

Just then, we recognized another Dolphins player who exited the locker room – the star quarterback whose left knee brace fascinated Charlie throughout practice (“How did he get that boo-boo?” he’d asked me repeatedly).

Although Charlie doesn’t know it, he’d stockpiled his first Ryan Tannehill autograph before he was even born. Back in October 2013, during Web Weekend X, each invitee was handed a single raffle ticket, and Michelle – then five months pregnant – received a second one for the baby. The last drawing of the evening was for a mini-Fathead set signed by the Dolphins quarterback, and of course, Charlie’s number proved to be the winner.

Charlie’s first jersey was, naturally, an aqua No. 17, and we took a photo of him as a baby in his Miami gear next to the now-framed sticker collection. Thanks to a senior member of the Dolphins Digital Media Team whom we’ve come to know closely over the years, Tannehill caught wind of the adorable snapshot and inscribed it, “To Charlie, Future Dolphins QB!”

Fast forward to Sunday – nearly four years later – and Charlie finally had a chance to meet his favorite player in person. While he was too shy to ask the quarterback about his “boo-boo” – he’ll get his media chops soon enough – he did hand him that trusted ukulele. A surprised Tannehill laughed before graciously signing the slightly-peeling body of the musical instrument, and gave Charlie a resounding high five after learning the full backstory of his connection to the young fan.

Although Charlie may not have jotted down notes or gathered enough quotes to submit a full practice report, he interacted with four key offensive starters, and even walked away with a bagful of keepsakes. Not bad for a rookie journalist covering his first of what will surely be many Dolphins events.

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