Valentine's Day is all about love, and what's stronger than the bond shared between a mother and her son? This season, when NFL players were afforded the opportunity to bring awareness to the cause closest to their heart, Dolphins cornerback Nik Needham instantly knew what he was going to do.
"She means the world to me," said Needham in December. "She grinds every day. She's very protective of me. (laughter) It's funny. I love her. She pushes me every day so I go out there and play for her. My dad too. Just grinding. Whenever I make a play or see the smile on their face, that makes me happy and makes me want to keep going for sure."
The cleats Needham wore in the 19-7 win over the Bengals paid homage to Shannon Needham and 88 Blessings, an organization founded by Erica Wilson, the mother of Dolphins wide receiver Allen Hurns to support single mothers.
"Mine is red and pink for love, I guess," Needham said. "Then it has some hearts on there and then my mom's name. I'm just going to be out there representing her."
The red and pink cleats read "Single Moms Have Backbones Of Steel & Hearts Of Gold." But on an early December day, it was the man inside the shoes that showed out. Matched up with one of the game's premier slot receivers in Tyler Boyd, Needham registered the same number of catches as the receivers across from him in the win (one reception allowed, one interception).
At that point in the season, Needham's box score shutdowns were already a trend.
Undrafted in 2019 out of the University of Texas El Paso, Needham enjoyed the jump all NFL sophomores hope to make between Years 1 and 2.
"My first year, I started off a little shaky and I had to adjust," Needham said. "I think throughout the first year, just growing, learning and adapting to the NFL season coaching-wise, I think that helped a little bit. Then them just letting me know what I needed to do in the offseason to really make that big jump in the second year, I think that helped a lot. Then Coach 'GA' (Defensive Backs Coach Gerald Alexander) has done a really good job of coaching me the tiny fundamentals in the slot. I didn't know it was that detailed, so he has been a big help in helping me continue to improve my game week by week."
Miami Dolphins Custom Valentine's Day Cards
Valentine's Day is in the rearview mirror, but since Needham was able to pay homage to the holiday in December, one day late is probably fine, too. Check out our Valentine's Day cards!