“I hadn’t seen him since the day I graduated in 1983 and I joked with him that we’ll probably have to sign some sort of confidentiality agreement because I didn’t want any of the old high school stories to get,” said Cimino after the first day of Miami’s three-day minicamp.
“He did a good job and I think he was really engrossed into the amount of things that go into the practice. He realized you don’t just show up and stand around with some footballs. We actually went through a script and he did some laundry before practice and helped set up the field.”
Benefiting from yet another team promotion designed to reward season ticket members and give them a glimpse behind the scenes, Wilpon also was being filmed by an NFL Network crew all day. From the moment he arrived at the team’s practice facility in Davie, he was put to work after attending Cimino’s morning meeting.
Once he headed out to the indoor practice bubble to set up cones and tackling dummies, Wilpon wore a microphone so that the film crew could record his reactions. By day’s end, he had a newfound respect for what his former high school classmate does for a living.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Wilpon, who manufactures cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. “I think this is the worst named profession in sports because it should have the word operations in the title. They do a lot more than just wash uniforms and handle the equipment and with that type of access you also get a whole new appreciation for what world-class athletes these are.”
Wilpon’s work wasn’t simply confined to the two-and-a-half hour practice. In fact, he figured out rather quickly that when the players retired to the locker room his work really began. Retrieving footballs, putting cones back in place and running water carts around was just the appetizer.
Cimino got a kick out of watching Wilpon take on the different tasks and was glad that it was not just his old high school buddy, but a fan that got to experience it.
“When practice ends you start all over again with the laundry and all of that stuff you put out in the morning you put back,” Cimino said. “We have deliveries that come in and shipments, so there’s a lot of stuff that goes on. We take care of the players’ helmets and equipment and clean up the locker room. I think this is really a great promotion and experience for people to really see what goes on during those three hours of football with the supporting staff.”
If Cimino was left wondering just what kind of impact his tutelage left on Wilpon, all he has to do is read these lasting words from his classmate.
“I was beat at the end of the day and my arms were black and blue from catching punts,” Wilpon said. “I haven’t felt that way in 20 years. They do some work.”