We continue today with part two of our look inside the Miami Dolphins locker room. Part one can be read here. The Miami Dolphins overhauled more than just the team and coaching staff entering the 2012 season. Joe Philbin brought with him to Miami a plan to make the players more united as a team and less about individual statistics. It’s one of the reasons the Dolphins traded Brandon Marshall in the off-season. He simply didn’t fit the team first mentality they were trying to establish.
While the team on the field looks different, the locker room and some of the key features around the training facility do as well.
Miami Dolphins equipment manager Joe Cimino took some time out of his day to discuss these changes with a group of Dolphins “Webmasters” the night before the Dolphins played the Tennessee Titans.
Joe let the group know that most of what we see in the locker room is a direct result of Philbin’s input to bring the team together. As mentioned in the first article, the decision to separate players from other players at their position came as a result of having the players get to know each other and build relationships across the divides of positions. At some point though, a player has to enter the locker room for the first time. And when they do, they have to meet with Joe Cimino.
Like everywhere there is a process to adding personnel. In Miami, adding a player is no different. After the player is signed, shakes hands with the powers that be, someone will escort him to the training room situated off the locker room. There Joe Cimino will have about 10 -15 minutes with the player, if he is lucky. He gets the players head measured for a helmet, gets the type of helmet the player wants, uniforms, and everything else the player would need to practice and play.
Joe also takes the players requests. For example, many players have superstitious habits and Joe jots those down next to the players name so he can accommodate those requests as needed. He will also play the advisory role to the NFL’s rules and let players know that certain types of uniform additions may result in league fines leaving the player to make his own decisions.
Joe described one rule about players wearing sleeves under their uniforms. Only QB”s can wear partial, mid, or full sleeves under their jerseys and pads. Other players must wear sleeves that do not come down past the middle of the bicep or they can wear sleeves that come all the way down to their wrist. Nothing in between.
Joe has a staff of 8 who do everything from collecting the laundry, hanging up the clean uniforms, equipment, and player accommodations. They also are the staff that preps for road games. All told the Dolphins on average will transport over 15,000 pounds of equipment for road games. Cimino pointed out that for him, every game is a road game given the Dolphins play away from their training facility. Cimino stated he doesn’t like to leave things at the stadium he may need at the training center.
Like other NFL teams, except maybe the Browns, the Dolphins pull off the helmet decals after every game. The helmets are cleaned thoroughly, inspected, and then polished for the next game. Then the decals are reapplied. Something that is done each week. For short weeks, the Dolphins prep the helmets and apply the decals in the visiting locker room of the host team.
All told, Cimino says the busiest time of course is prepping for training camp. Players coming and going, lockers needing cleaned, prepped, name plate changes, new player interviews, exit inventory, and on and on. Long days and longer weekends that don’t end when the game ends. At the game on Sunday, following the event, Cimino gave a quick wave to our group as he headed to the Dolphins side line. Where he stayed for the better part of the rest of the day.
With 53 men on an active roster and the additional practice squad members, an 8 man crew keeps the flow of the team functioning properly.