Cameron Wake: A man not to bet against


Heading into his eighth season in the NFL—at the mature age of 34—Cameron Wake understands the meaning of playing with a chip on one’s shoulder.

Most of the time in sports we glorify the “underdog”. We sympathize with them and understand their struggle, which in return makes them likeable. Like any emotional human being, we find ourselves rooting for them to succeed.

By this simple definition, Cameron Wake is an underdog. And he’s a man you shouldn’t bet against.

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Despite a good college career at Penn State, where he was used primarily as a linebacker, Cameron Wake went unnoticed. At the start of the 2005 NFL Draft, Wake waited nervously for his name to be announced. His name, however, was never called. Not one team took a shot at the gifted athlete from suburban Washington D.C.

Instead, Wake later signed with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent. His time in New York, however, was short-lived; the Giants cut Wake just 2 months later.

Out of football for two years, faced with the harsh reality of professional sports, Wake persevered in his football career. He found himself in a world (or country, rather) away in Canada playing in the CFL for the BC Lions. Once there, he was dominant. Wake compiled a career’s worth of accolades in just two seasons.

Wake was a defensive juggernaut never witnessed by the CFL before. He was named Rookie of the Year and was awarded the Defensive Player of the Year award two years in a row. More impressively, Wake was named to the CFL’s All-Decade Team for just two season’s worth of play.

And then, finally, he was noticed. In 2009, after his two successful seasons for the BC Lions, a number of teams flocked to Canada to see the man everyone was talking about. And, fortunately, it was the Dolphins that won the bidding war for Wake’s services.

Since joining the Dolphins, Wake has become a fan-favorite; he’s compiled 70 sacks in seven seasons, and has had three seasons with 10 or more sacks (11.5, 14, and 15). He’s a four-time Pro-Bowler, he was a first-team-All-Pro in 2010, he’s been ranked by his peers as one of the top 100 players in the NFL, and most impressively, was named as one of the top 50 players in Miami Dolphins history by the fans.

There’s no question regarding Cameron Wake’s passion for the game; he has a motor that never stops running. Fans look to Wake as somewhat of a super-hero. Last year, however, was the first time fans saw the man with super-human strength show signs of being merely human.

The beginning of the 2015 season was rough; Wake performed poorly, recording only one tackle in a four-game span. The fans started chirping and many believed that Wake’s age and lingering hamstring issues had finally caught up to him. Despite the critics and his poor play on the field, Wake reverted to his old-self: a man with a chip on his shoulder.

Wake—under the new direction of interim head coach Dan Campbell—went on a rampage, recording 6 sacks and 4 forced fumbles in just two games. Wake was back and the Dolphins—winners of two-straight—were in prime position to turn their season around.

Then, once again, the fans fell witness to something they’ve never seen before from their Pro Bowl-defensive end: an injury. In week eight on a Thursday night game in Foxboro against their division rival, the New England Patriots, Wake—after pummeling Tom Brady to the turf for his seventh sack of the season—suffered a season-ending injury to his Achilles just before the fourth quarter.

Things looked gloomy for Cameron Wake; his time in a Miami Dolphins uniform appeared to be all but over. The Dolphins were faced with the harsh reality of exploring the option of parting ways with Wake, especially with young, high-priced players Olivier Vernon and Lamar Miller set to hit the open free-agent market.

But after the Dolphins lost Vernon, Miller, and wide receiver Rishard Mathews via free-agency, and sent Brent Grimes packing, they found themselves with more cap-space and restructured Wake’s contract, signing the All-Pro defensive-end through the 2017 season with $10 million fully guaranteed.

Next season, Cameron Wake will be asked to be more of a pass-rush specialist rather than an every-down player. Given the circumstances, it’s seems like the best fit for both him and the Dolphins defense. Wake has mastered his craft at rushing the quarterback and provides leadership on-and-off the field.

Despite his age and coming off a major leg injury, the Dolphins—like they have once before—decided to push all their chips to the center of the table and bet on Cameron Wake this offseason. Of course, it’s unknown what kind of production Wake will have this season. But as the 31 other NFL teams have found out, he’s that one bet that may come back to haunt them.