A ‘Special’ Afternoon Under The Bubble
May 22, 2018 11:46 PM | Andy Cohen
The smiles said it all.

Some flag football games broke out Tuesday afternoon underneath the bubble at the Dolphins training facility. But these weren't your normal city league or pick-up games. The players were Special Olympics athletes, all ages, from Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. The coaches and referees were Dolphins rookies and some members of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

Competitive? You bet it was. Inspirational? No doubt about it.

"This is an incredibly memorable day for these athletes," said Linsey Smith, Regional Director of the Florida/South Florida Special Olympics. "They feel like rock stars."

There are some important reasons for holding this clinic, the fifth year the Dolphins have done so. Emphasize physical fitness. Give back to the community. Lend an important hand to these athletes, many of whom have had to overcome so much adversity to be where they were Tuesday afternoon.

"Me give them advice?" said second round pick Mike Gesicki. "They give me advice."

The Dolphins rookies clearly embraced this opportunity.

"I'm blessed to be able to do this," said first-round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick. "You play this game for many reasons. Something like this is certainly one of the most important reasons."

When the rookies were introduced, you could see the looks on the faces of so many of these young Special Olympics athletes. Eyes opened wide. In some cases, mouths opened wide. You could tell it meant everything. Once the action started, four flag football games were going on at the same time, the 110 Special Olympics participants split up into teams. A young man named Markeith takes a short pass and wiggles his way into the end zone. Gesicki starts high-fiving the players. Fitzpatrick wonders, "what about the defense?"

It was hard to tell whether the Dolphins players or the Special Olympics athletes were having more fun. Looked like they were all having a blast.

On another patch of field, you could find rookie placekicker Jason Sanders running almost full speed alongside the ball carrier as he crossed the goal line. You got the feeling Sanders wanted to kick the extra point.

Was that rookie running back Buddy Howell out of FAU throwing bombs down the sideline? Uh, you're only supposed to coach, Buddy.

When it was over, the Special Olympics athletes each got a medal and some other gifts from the Dolphins' rookies. But it is the memories, and the time spent with these first-year players, that will undoubtedly stay with them the longest. The smiles, after all, said it all.
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