It’s been a long day today. I can’t imagine how hellish it’s been for the media guys who actually get paid for this. I have been up since 4 am and haven’t left my computer but to grab food. Thank God it’s my off day from Insanity! The news from the Dolphins has been almost endless, couple that with the goings on around the NFL, a hollering seven year old son, barking dogs, phone calls from the wife, and little beeps every time I get an Email or a “tweet” and well, let’s just say I need a beer.
So now, as the evening winds down I took a deep breath stretched back and noticed a black case on top of the computer cabinet. The white panel of an NFL football glaring out towards the back wall with the signature of Ronnie Brown on it. Behind it a picture of him stretched out, ball in hand, crossing the pylon for a touchdown. And that’s when I realized, these Miami Dolphins are no longer Miami Dolphins.
Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown, and Channing Crowder have yet to sign anywhere but they will and it won’t likely be with the Dolphins. Ricky Williams up and down career with Miami will at least and maybe finally come to an end that doesn’t have “suspended” after his name. For his part, Williams has been the model citizen in Miami since Bill Parcells arrived. He brought him back into the fold and really helped him clean up his act. His production over the last few seasons has waned but he was still a valuable asset. Under Parcells, he was never asked to be “the guy” like he was under Dave Wannstedt and Nick Saban.
It was never a secret here on this site that I was never a real supporter of Williams but always viewed him as bit flaky and odd that could simply fall off the deep end any moment. I thought he should have been traded years ago for whatever they could get for him. I am glad, in hindsight that they kept him. It’s been fun watching him play even when those moments became few and far between. Still, his career in Miami has run it’s course and it’s time to part ways.
Ronnie Brown, he’s a little bit different.
Brown was by far the only real choice to make in Nick Sabans’ first draft with Miami. Braylon Edwards was taken immediately after him and has really been nothing but trouble. Cedric Benson has been up and down and has had issues, still having issues with the law. Brown’s Auburn teammate Cadillac Williams has spent most of his NFL career injured. So in reality, Brown was the best of the top 5 from that draft.
Soft spoken and every bit of class as you would expect, Brown was gracious with his time in Miami. I had the privilege of interviewing on two occasions. The final time last year prior the first meeting with the Jets. Even then he seemed almost reserved to the fact that 2010 was his last year with the Dolphins. Where Brown’s issues came into play was that he needs a longer term deal than the Dolphins can afford. His play has waned over the last two seasons and his best a professional came at the hands of the Wild Cat three years ago.
After Brown was injured two seasons ago, he really never came back fully. He began to dance again behind the line of scrimmage instead of hitting the holes with conviction. In the end, he simply became expendable and his injury history made him unreliable for a new contract. And so, it appears that he too will be gone soon. Of the three, I think I will miss him the most, simply because he just went out and played football. He didn’t showboat, he didn’t dance, instead like Barry Sanders’ father used to say, “He acted like he had been there before”.
I remember the first time I saw Channing Crowder in person. I was at my first “Web Weekend” event. Our seats were field level with tunnel access. It was against the Oakland Raiders and Daunte’ Culpepper. The second half was just about to start, and I was taking full advantage of my credentials and was walking the tunnels. You can imagine my surprise when I turned to see Vonnie Holiday and Channing Crowder walking beside me out of nowhere.
Crowder is a big guy, and he is very intimidating. He nodded hello as did Holiday but neither said a word, both were injured and not returning to the game.
I like the drafting of Crowder and realized that the phrase “wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark tunnel” actually had meaning. Crowder’s draft stock fell due to a college injury but then HC Nick Saban saw a lot of upside. He learned to play LB in the NFL from Zach Thomas and he never forgot that. His play was never perfect and he often underplayed his contract but he gave it 100 percent every play.
Crowder’s mouth became his crutch. He couldn’t shut it up and he couldn’t back it up. Despite the fact that the last few years has seen him spend more and more time on the sidelines rather than in games, his locker room presence is something that will be hard to replace. It was his play on the field that really dictated today’s release. In my mind, I see three things when I hear the name Channing Crowder. The tunnel encounter, him fighting with the New England lineman, and his blitzes up the middle that always ended with his legs being knocked out by some small running back.
I also remember Crowder saying that he was always distracted playing at home, because there was so much to look at in the stands…and I’m sure he was serious. During pre-game warm-ups, Crowder would waive, smile, and shake hands. It’s who he is.
Crowder was a good player for Miami but that simply wasn’t enough. It was time for him to move on. He simply wasn’t worth the 5 million dollars Miami was paying to have him nurse nagging injuries every year.
So now I have a signed Ronnie Brown football, and memories of Ricky Williams and Channing Crowder and I realize that the three of them were the personalities that made up this team since the departures of Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor and while I’m a bit saddened by the news and the reality of NFL business that the three of them will more than likely move on for good, I can’t help but be excited at the prospect of adding upgrades to those positions.
And new identies as well.