Dolphins Share July 4 Memories

Posted Jul 4, 2012

Independence Day has become so synonymous with summer that it’s easy to forget where it falls on the NFL offseason calendar. We caught up with six former Miami Dolphins players and asked them what the Fourth of July means to them as Americans and what it meant to them during their playing days.

“It means a lot. You’re celebrating the nation but you’re also thinking about all the men and women that have given their lives and their time to protect us. This is a time for us to celebrate them and our country and to just come together as a country, even if it’s just for a brief time. There are no political parties, there’s no race and there’s no color. It’s all about just being an American and we’re celebrating that.”

“Timing wise as a player your body knew and that anxiety to get out there and start playing was there. You knew after the Fourth of July it was full go for the next six or seven months. After the first couple of years being down here you got used to the heat and you dealt with it. It’s funny how now that I’m not playing, the more years that I’m out of it the hotter it gets and I wonder how I did it with a helmet and shoulder pads. I remember our first year with Jimmy (Johnson) we had 18 two-a-days. People don’t realize that and nowadays they have eight or nine, but then I talk to the guys that played for Shula and they had three-a-days. We didn’t have this air conditioned bubble.”

“The Fourth of July means a lot to me not just because it’s a holiday where a lot of people cook out. What it means is it’s when America was born so that means a lot to me being an American.

“As a player, we knew after the Fourth of July that we were going to training camp real soon and that meant no more cookouts and Bar-B-Qs. We knew we had to quickly get our butts in shape.”

“For me the Fourth of July has always been about celebrating our country and celebrating the flag and family. I guess I’m kind of a traditionalist. My best recollections of the Fourth of July were having a picnic in the backyard back in the days when you would shoot your own fireworks off. I’d be at a friend’s house or our parents would take us to a friend’s house with a bunch of families and we’d have all the kids around and that was the typical Fourth of July. No matter how much it has changed that has always had the same feeling for me.

“The Fourth of July to me when I was playing was always that time where you crossed that threshold from the offseason to getting back to work. It was usually kind of like your last hurrah and we’d have a party, but I think there were a couple of years where we actually went to training camp within a couple of days after the Fourth of July was over with. So the Fourth was always the DMZ and once you crossed the line at July 4th it was time to get down to serious business. Nothing ever changed with Coach Shula and the first day was always the same and the 10th day was always the same as every other 10th day.”

“I think when 9/11 happened that put things into perspective as far as you being in America and being an American and the freedoms that you have living here. I think that really brought back how proud people were to be Americans. I think it also put the Fourth of July and Independence Day into perspective because looking at some of these other countries where you really don’t have a voice or a say-so on how things go, you realize what we have here. And now you understand why you have people beating down the door sneaking into the country to have that voice. I think every day you wake up and you look at our military and the job they’re doing in Afghanistan and Iraq you understand the freedoms they’re fighting for. So you think about the soldiers and the firefighters and the police officers who keep us safe and you realize as an American you have the right to vote and to free speech and you are grateful and that’s what the Fourth of July is all about.

“NFL players realize this signals the end of the offseason for the most part. The bottom line is this is really the time if you’re in the offseason conditioning program, leading up to the Fourth of July when you know you have a couple of weeks off before you actually go into camp. It gives you a sense of accomplishment because all of the things you went through in the offseason and the OTAs and everything else it took to get yourself back into shape paid off. This is the time when you’re starting to stock up on your deodorant and buy your socks and all of the different things that are going to make you comfortable during camp. That’s when you realize that two-a-days are getting close so this is really the last hurrah before training camp. Guys are spending more time with their families and taking these last-minute vacations because they know once training camp is on you’re on the Dolphins’ time and you have to focus on your job and on coming together as a team.”

“It’s Independence Day and like all the holidays – President’s Day, Fourth of July and Martin Luther King Day – all of those are very important to me. You get together with your family to celebrate our independence and that is something that everybody should share. I am American but at one point in time my ancestors came from Africa, which there were some bad things involved at the time but also there are good things about it right now. I think by bringing us down here from Africa it was a big favor to us and we fought for a lot of years for our own independence and being recognized as blacks. So I think that also has a lot to do with Independence Day and we all should cherish it.

“Back when I was playing I looked at the Fourth of July as a sharp reminder that I was about to get my butt back to work in training camp. And Coach Shula did not take it easy on us from the get go.”

“I was born and raised right outside of Philadelphia and we celebrated the Bicentennial and the country’s 200th birthday. That was beautiful and made you understand what we fought for, freedom, and to really appreciate it. Sometimes you forget all it took to get where we are today as far as freedom is concerned, but if you look back through history it was a long tussle. It’s a day to really be thankful for the freedom we have, especially if you look at all the other countries throughout the world, it’s pretty good to be an American citizen.

“When you were a player you looked at the Fourth of July as the last holiday you get to enjoy before you went back to work for real.”

Latest Headlines

Game Pass: Miami Dolphins