The shirts, as Dolphins alum Sam Madison pointed out, said it all.
The former Pro Bowl cornerback was among a group of alumni and current rookies who joined Dolphins staff members and participants in the Football Unites program for the inaugural Football Unites Cultural Tour last week, when everyone on hand got to visit and learn about Overtown and Calle Ocho.
“Football unites everything,” Madison said. “We have it on our shirts that you see the kids as well as a lot of the sponsors walk around with, but to have the opportunity for the Miami Dolphins, one of the richest franchises in the NFL, and do a lot of different things in the community, have a great opportunity to be able to teach our kids where they come from and where they’re going, to understand the rich history that they have, to take pride in that. When you talk about football, we always talk about have pride in your job and what you do. You need to have pride about the city that you grew up in, and that’s what we’re trying to show, give back and the Miami Dolphins definitely are reaching out and going above and beyond to do that and show that.”
The cultural tour was part of the Dolphins’ “Teamwork at Work” initiative and was designed to provide an opportunity for Football Unites grantees, Miami Dolphins players, alumni and staff to learn more about the cultures that make up South Florida.
The guests included members of 5000 Role Models, the Miami Gardens, North Miami and North Miami Beach Police Athletic League (PAL), Pridelines, NOBLE, as well as adult participants of Football Unites.
The visit was educational not only for the Football Unites participants, but for players like Minkah Fitzpatrick, who grew up in New Jersey and attended the University of Alabama.
“It’s been pretty good,” he said. “I’ve just been learning. I’m new to Miami, so it’s just cool learning all the different history, all the different parts of Miami, the different cultures, the different backgrounds. It was cool just learning, talking with people and just enjoying it.
“I think it’s extremely important (to do something like that) because it’s about understanding how people think, how they operate. A big part of that is their culture and their background. Just being able to experience it, just really go into their community, learn about them is really important.”
In Overtown, the participants in the cultural tour were given a brief history of the area and visited The Historic Lyric Theater.
The visit to 8th Street included a stop at famed Cuban restaurant Versailles, where the participants got to try out some pastelitos as well as Cuban coffee.
“It was a great opportunity for us to really learn about the City of Miami,” Madison said. “We had a lot of the rookies come out and hang out with us, as well as alumni. We had a group of young, talented youth from around South Florida to take through the City of Miami, just give them the opportunity to understand the rich history that we have and how it really began.
“When you talk about community, there’s a lot of diverse people down here in Miami. When you talk about people coming from all over the world, for the Miami Dolphins and football to unite and do all these different things in the community is just really important. When we go back and we look at the history of just the United States and the State of Florida, there’s a lot of different things that characterize and the way that this city looks right now and we need to have everybody understand that rich tradition to be able to hold up that tradition the same as the Miami Dolphins (tradition).”
The next event in the Football Unites Cultural Tour program is scheduled for Oct. 16 with a visit to the Holocaust Memorial and Jewish Museum in Miami Beach and the Freedom Tower in Downtown Miami.
Dolphins Player Engagement Coordinator Yves Batoba explained to the participants the benefits of the cultural tours: “Anytime that you can get something in common like football to take a whole bunch of different people, different backgrounds and wherever they come from, they get to come together to learn about one another, only great things could be built off that.”