Miami Dolphins

Members of the Miami Dolphins and the team’s owner, Stephen Ross, created Football Unites to address racial issues and to unite communities.

A man by the name of Rodney King in a plea for peace during civil unrest once uttered this simple question, “can we all get along?”

It is often jokingly asked, but the question is still relevant and in need of an answer today.

Well Mr. King, here is my answer.

This may be a bit optimistic, but this is what I hope and pray for – A world where “we are not judged by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character,” as so eloquently put by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I truly believe if we go that extra mile, if we take that extra step, then, yes, we can.

Sometimes it takes people coming together, taking the time to get to know one another, and accepting and respecting each other’s differences. That can help to find that common ground.

The Miami Dolphins have put together a program to do just that – find that common ground. It is fittingly called Football Unites.

We just surpassed a little holiday called Thanksgiving, where food, family and football are traditionally the order of the day.

Football Unites, a tailgate initiative funded by Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross and Dolphins players, was created to address issues of racial inequality and to unite communities.

RISE (Ross initiative in Sports Equality) uses the power of sports to bring groups of people together to improve race relations and advance social change.

The tailgate was designed to strengthen relationships between community leaders, youth and law enforcement officials. It features games, food, live music, giveaways, a chance to win autographed memorabilia and, of course, football. The educational component of the event is designed to create dialogue and foster positive relationships, uniting groups of different races, genders, sexual orientation and identities. And a visit from a Dolphins’ wide receiver Kenny Stills was on tap for last Sunday’s event.

Organizations that participated in the Football Unites grant program include: Trayvon Martin Foundation, Urban League, Islamic Center of Greater Miami and North Miami PAL.

“It was a huge melting pot of different organizations, that their fundamental basis is the same thing, which is bridging the gap — the gap between police and communities and just the gap between different cultures. A huge melting pot of people that look just like us, people that look different from us, people that dress different than us,” said Sgt. Kessler Brooks of PAL. “That interaction of going around with those questions, breaking the ice and getting to know someone just by introducing yourself by name and asking questions; it meant a lot to these kids.”

Brooks chaperoned a busload of 14 kids of all age ranges for the tailgate experience. They had a Q & A portion to get to know their peers and community leaders and to help to come up with ideas on how to make an impact in their neighborhoods.

This is the third year for the program and it takes place before the Dolphins’ regular season home games.

The latest Football Unites event was Sunday, Dec. 9, when the Dolphins took on the New England Patriots.

It may not have been the “Thrilla in Manila,” but it definitely gave your heart an extra tic-toc at Hard Rock.

The kids and the community leaders got an opportunity to witness the play that will forever be known as the Miami Miracle.

And what a game it was!

The Dolphins and Patriots were exchanging blows.

Right out of the gate, the Patriots scored first on a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown, but they missed the extra point – a point that came back to bite them in the butt in the end.

The Dolphins answered right back with a nice little scoring drive of their own: A 5-play, 75-yard touchdown. The game went back and forth like this all day.

That was until the Phins’ last-ditch, history-making, unforgettable, miracle play.

I’m sure you’ve heard it by now, but it was such an amazing feat, that one can’t help but keep replaying and reliving it over and over and over again.

So here it goes.

Seven seconds left in the game, 69 yards to go, one reception, two laterals, some great blocking and sending one Kenyon Drake into the end zone to give the Dolphins a 34-33 victory over the Patriots.

“Sorry Gronk, you are a great player, but I’ve got somewhere to be,” said Drake.

When a team comes together and is clicking on all cylinders, you get a big win.

Just imagine what we could do when we come together in our communities.

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