There again was a lot of activity around Nova Southeastern University on Sunday, but this time it was down the road from the Dolphins training facility.
On the day after the end of the 2018 NFL draft, the Dolphins teamed up with AARP Foundation for the fifth annual Million Meal Pack. The event at the Rick Case Arena at Nova Southeastern University involved around 4,000 volunteers, current and former Dolphins players, as well as several members of the organization, such as Vice Chairman Tom Garfinkel, Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum, and Senior Vice Presidents Todd Kline, Jeremy Walls and Jason Jenkins.
"It's really great," Tannenbaum said before taking his turn on the assembly line. "I'm here with my family. It starts at the top with (Owner) Steve Ross. We're so lucky to be part of the NFL and to give back and to help people in some small way is very fulfilling. And to do it with so many prominent alumni, current players and coaches, it's a great day for the organization."
Volunteers worked an assembly line in shifts throughout the day, combining nutritious ingredients to collectively make 1 million meals of red lentil jambalaya. Volunteers received a free T-shirt and enjoyed music, football activities, a Miami Dolphins Cheerleader performance and a chance to win prizes.
The packaged meals will be delivered by U.S. Hunger to Feeding South Florida's network of older adults in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
"It's very exciting for us to be here again," said Lisa Marsh Ryerson, President of AARP Foundation. "It's just a reminder of the power of AARP Foundation in this fifth year. For five years, we've been working together with the Miami Dolphins. There's mission alignment, it's all about caring about community, engaging volunteers. So for us to be able to tap into the power of Dolphins members, fans, community members and the broader community —and the Dolphins, like AARP Foundation, are about action — we get things done together."
"We're all about teamwork at the Dolphins organization," said Miami Dolphins Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Jehn, "so partnering up with AARP but also partnering up with our players, our alumni, our staff, their families, this is a great day for all of us to come together and participate in this amazing effort to feed older adults in South Florida."
Current Dolphins players on hand Sunday included Laremy Tunsil, Ja'Wuan James, Xavien Howard, Sam Young, Raekwon McMillan, Eric Smith, Jesse Davis and Jake Brendel.
Among the alumni who took turns on the assembly line were Sam Madison, Troy Drayton, Jim Jensen, Oronde Gadsden, Chris Chambers, Ed Perry, Bob Brudzinski and Shawn Wooden.
"It's always cool that my teammates get together and do stuff like this," Drayton said. "We feel like we're still a big part of this community. We all live here. This is an important event for not only the Miami Dolphins and the AARP, but just being able to feed, stop world hunger and stop hunger in South Florida, it starts here and then we can expand out. This a great place to start."
Among current players, Tunsil, Young and McMillan were taking part in this event for the first time.
"It's a really cool event, out here packing a million meals," McMillan said. "We're just out there with the community getting to know everybody and trying to do good."
Numbers game: Dolphins players wore their jerseys for the event, so it was interesting to see Tunsil wearing 78 and not 67, which was his number for his first two seasons in the NFL. Tunsil indeed is switching jersey numbers, going back to his college number, which belonged to defensive end Terrence Fede before he left this offseason when he signed with Buffalo as an unrestricted free agent. "Back to the college number," Tunsil said. "It does mean a lot. That number I played in for three years. Now I'm in the NFL and I want to play with it again. Hopefully it brings me some type of luck."
New rookies: The end of the 2018 draft signaled the start of the annual exercise of signing undrafted free agents. Michigan linebacker Mike McCray II and Notre Dame College defensive end Claudy Mathieu both indicated on their Twitter account they had signed with the Dolphins. According to the Twitter accounts from their school, Florida Atlantic kicker Greg Joseph and Utah State cornerback Jalen Davis also signed with the Dolphins. Finally, long-snapping instructor Matt Wigley tweeted that the Dolphins had signed Lucas Gravelle from TCU.
Together again: After third-round pick Jerome Baker spoke to Dolphins officials Friday night, he was on the phone with former Ohio State teammate Raekwon McMillan. Baker spoke highly of McMillan's influence in college and now the two will be reunited in the NFL, much to McMillan's satisfaction. "I'm excited because I was one of the guys that recruited him to Ohio State and to have him as a teammate again here with the Dolphins is a true blessing," McMillan said. "It's a blessing for his family and it's good to have a familiar face around here. … We did a lot at Ohio State, won a lot of games together and hopefully we can do the same thing with the Dolphins."
Trade talks: General Manager Chris Grier said after the draft Saturday the Dolphins had conversations about potential trades, but in the end the team went without a deal during the draft for the first time since 2007. "You always like to make sure that you have ammunition next year, but if there was a move to be made that could benefit us, we have trader Mike (Tannenbaum) here to get us going," Grier said, laughing. "We had to restrain him this year. It was hard for him. (laughter) Really, and it's a credit to him, everyone that calls feels like Mike is trying to get something. They're like worried about it, because Mike does such a great job working trades with people. For us, we got great value we think with the players that were there. For us, if there was a trade to be made, we would've done it. We tried to make a couple. They didn't work out." The Dolphins did make plenty of trades leading up to the draft, which is how they ended up with two fourth-round and two seventh-round selections.