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Omar Kelly: Dolphins’ commitment to Tua isn’t unanimous and it could hurt search for coach



Omar Kelly: Dolphins’ commitment to Tua isn’t unanimous and it could hurt search for coach

History has had a nasty habit of repeating itself with the Miami Dolphins during the past decade, if not two.

No matter how hard the franchise tries to steer a different course, it keeps traveling down the same path, making similar mistakes, and the people who record that history need to take some ownership for this ride on the mediocrity merry-go-round.

At least I do, because not all of Dolphins’ history has been recorded properly, or done in a timely fashion.

For instance, you’ve probably heard whisperers, or internet chatter about the failed coup d’état the 2014 receivers orchestrated at the end of the season to have quarterback Ryan Tannehill replaced by Matt Moore.

As I’ve been told by multiple sources, in December of that season, with a playoff berth on the line, the receiver unit sat down with then-head coach Joe Philbin and asked him to bench Tannehill for Moore, who was a more aggressive passer.

Philbin denied their request, and 7-5 turned into 8-8. Every receiver on that team outside of Jarvis Landry and Rishard Matthews was traded or purged that offseason.

Tannehill survived, got new weapons the next offseason, and Miami’s mediocrity marched on. I never reported about the attempted coup at the time because the receivers didn’t want it out then, since it failed, and it could have hurt their NFL future.

But I’m bringing it up now because I’ve been hearing plenty of locker-room discomfort regarding the franchise’s supposedly unwavering commitment to Tua Tagovailoa, the 2020 first-round pick for whom Miami has gone 13-8 in his starts the past two seasons.

Players aren’t siding with now-removed coach Brian Flores over Tagovailoa. Many of them had issues with Flores’ antics and personality quirks, like Tagovailoa and General Manager Chris Grier did. Their troublesome relationship with Flores contributed to his firing earlier this month.

Now, some players’ issues are with the reports that the Dolphins plan to build around Tagovailoa, who finished the 2021 season with the 19th-highest passer rating (90.1) in the NFL, sandwiched between Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Tannehill.

Most Dolphins like and respect Tagovailoa, which hasn’t always been the case with Dolphins quarterbacks. See Chad Henne and Tannehill’s career for the most recent examples.

NFL backups are always popular in locker rooms, especially with defenders when the offense struggles, and the Dolphins’ offense has struggled for most of the 21st century.

What I’m sensing, reporting, chronicling, hoping to bring to the light, is that there’s a strained relationship with Tagovailoa and his team. And for the sake of transparency, I’m admitting it is difficult to put a finger on the source.

Most of the players I talk to privately acknowledge that there is some resentment built up because Tagovailoa was hyped up as this franchise’s savior, and “he’s no savior,” as one Dolphins player puts it.

Many players felt Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was the clear-cut leader of the 2020 team that finished 10-6, had his team stolen from him when Fitzpatrick was benched for a then rookie Tagovailoa six games into the season.

Many players felt that decision, which was made by Flores and Dolphins management, hurt the team’s playoff chances that season. Although Tagovailoa didn’t push to become Miami’s starter, it strained some relationships.

His leadership style is constantly compared to Fitzpatrick’s, and that’s a losing battle.

A few players admitted that the Dolphins’ seasonlong flirtation with Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson, which excited quite a few of Tagovailoa’s teammates, affected their feelings about Tagovailoa because “Watson’s an elite quarterback now. We’re ready to win,” as one player summed up.

When Tagovailoa’s positives are pointed out — as I often do, as an admitted supporter of Tagovailoa — the rebuttal always centers on the lack of velocity of his throws.

“He can’t make every throw,” one prominent defender said before reminding me he watched Tagovailoa every day, not just on game days. “He’s only going to take us so far. I’m wasting my career here if that’s what we’re doing!”

None of these issues are new revelations or uncharted waters for the Dolphins.

I’ve heard that kind of talk privately for decades about too many quarterbacks, and here we are with two postseason appearances in 20 years.

But it warrants mentioning now because the Dolphins are embarking on a search for the team’s next head coach after seemingly making a public announcement that whoever wants Flores’ job must believe in and build an offense around Tagovailoa.

What if 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel wants to continue coaching Jimmy Garoppolo, who will likely be on the trading block this offseason. His $25 million-a-year contract expires after the 2022 season, and the 49ers traded three first-rounders and a third-rounder to the Dolphins to select Trey Lance with the third pick of last year’s draft.

Or if Dan Quinn, who spent four seasons in Seattle, could find a way to deliver perennial Pro Bowl selection Russell Wilson in a trade with the Seahawks?

Maybe Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, or Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, two more candidates, covet a quarterback in the 2022 draft class.

How about Miami’s decision-makers simply listen to each candidate’s unbiased opinions of Tagovailoa, and their game plan at quarterback before stacking the deck, potentially turning off candidates?

That is why Dolphins players would prefer it be out there that not everyone supports the organization’s stance of unwavering commitment to Tagovailoa, and that the players would prefer that he at least be given legit competition this offseason, and must win the job in a training camp battle, where a new offense is installed.

This isn’t about not believing in Tagovailoa’s future, potential and promise.

This is about ensuring that the franchise’s course, its trajectory, isn’t tied to it, and that a general manager’s desire to prove he was right on his quarterback selection two years ago doesn’t hold a team back for the rest of this decade, like some of the Dolphins’ other unwavering commitments to lackluster quarterbacks.


DJ LeMahieu confident he can avoid trip to injured list



DJ LeMahieu confident he can avoid trip to injured list

ST. PETERSBURG — DJ LeMahieu was able to hit after Thursday night’s Yankees win and is fairly confident he will be able to avoid the injured list.

“I don’t want to get too excited, but it’s definitely felt better as the day has gone on,” LeMahieu said. “I think that cortisone finally just took.”

LeMahieu had a cortisone shot in his left wrist on Tuesday. Before Thursday’s game he said the wrist had not improved enough. He admitted he might need to go on the IL. Thursday night, he was not available off the bench and the Yankees had just catcher Kyle Higashioka available.

“DJ was not available. Although it sounds like he’s doing a lot better in literally the last two hours,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “So we’ll see where we’re at. Kind of get together again tonight and see where we’re at in the morning.”


Aaron Hicks felt his right hamstring tighten during Wednesday’s game against the Orioles in the Bronx, but still tried to play Thursday. He had to be scratched less than an hour before first pitch, but he thinks he will be able to play on Friday.

“I definitely feel like I’ll be able to be there tomorrow and that’s what I’m planning on doing,” Hicks said.

The center fielder said he first felt it running to first base Wednesday. Boone said he asked Hicks to try and play Thursday, but after treatment he could not run at full speed.

The Yankees have gone through a bunch of injuries lately. Third baseman Josh Donaldson is on the COVID IL with a respiratory illness. Giancarlo Stanton is on the IL with an ankle injury.


Matt Carpenter barely had time to put his bag down when he was called into a hitters meeting. The Yankees signed the former Cardinal and three-time All-Star before Thursday night’s game and when Hicks was scratched, he got rushed into the lineup.

“It was pretty crazy, I think I landed (in Tampa) at 3:20,” Carpenter said. “To be part of a huge win right away is pretty cool.”

Carpenter got hit by a pitch in the sixth and came around to score the Yankees first run of the night.


Zack Britton is expected to throw his first bullpen session since elbow reconstruction surgery on Tuesday, Aaron Boone said. The Yankees manager said he absolutely expects Britton to be back this season.

The lefty reliever was in the clubhouse before Thursday’s game. He has been recovering from left elbow reconstruction surgery in Tampa.

In other injury news, Yankees right-hander Domingo German, who has been rehabbing from a shoulder issue since spring training, has been facing live hitters in batting practice and is “close,” to getting a rehab assignment.

With the Yankees bullpen losing Aroldis Chapman (Achilles), Chad Green (Tommy John) and Jonathan Loaisiga (shoulder), German could possibly be a reinforcement when he is ready.


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David Banuelos’ impact with St. Paul Saints extends off the field



David Banuelos, St. Paul Saints catcher

The backgrounds of Saints players feature a wide variety of honors and accolades from high school, college and earlier minor league stops.

Such notoriety for 25-year-old catcher David Banuelos includes being one of the three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award (given annually to the best collegiate catcher) in 2017 while playing for Cal State Long Beach. Banuelos’ recognized talents led to him being selected in the fifth round of that year’s draft by the Seattle Mariners.

Being recognized for his work off the field has proven to be equally gratifying. Banuelos was the recipient of the Twins’ annual Harmon Killebrew Award in 2018, given to players on all levels of the organization for their community work.

David Banuelos, St. Paul Saints catcher

“I love giving back to the community,” said Banuelos, who has continued his community work in the Twin Cities, prior to Thursday night’s 8-1 win over Indianapolis at CHS Field. “It’s something I was always appreciative of growing up.

“You can make a big impact in a person’s life just with the title that you have. Just taking a couple of seconds out of your day can make a little kid’s day — or year. I’m grateful for being in the position to be able to talk to kids and have a positive impact.”

The award has extra meaning to Banuelos due to the fact that one of his friends back in his native Ontario, Calif., is Killebrew’s grandson.

“It was a really cool award to win because I know the family personally,” Banuelos said. “His mom congratulated me as well for winning an award that was named after her father.”

Banuelos credits his own parents with instilling in him the willingness to give back whenever he can.

Interestingly, Banuelos’ middle name is Clemente, the surname of baseball’s greatest humanitarians, Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash on December 31, 1972, while delivering aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Following his death, Major League Baseball established the Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to a player for his commitment to community service.

While Banuelos was not named after Clemente (it’s his father’s first name), the Pittsburgh Pirates legend has had an impact on him, especially being in a position of influence.

“People like that inspire you to do things (to help),” Banuelos said, “because there are bigger things in the world than baseball. When people like us can give back to the community they appreciate those kind of things.”

Banuelos’ community work usually involves kids, and he and his wife, Jessica, have a son, Ezekiel, who just turned 1. Being a father also has impacted Banuelos’ life, including on the field.

“The way I think has completely changed,” he said. “I control my temper a little more now on the field. It’s made me think twice before I do things — maybe three times. Because there are consequences to everything.”


Royce Lewis moved over from his customary shortstop to play third base on Friday. He made a diving stop behind the bag and threw out the hitter in the fifth. He also had two hits, drove in a run and stole a base.

Alex Kirilloff had a two-run home run, a double and an RBI single. Spencer Steer also homered.

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Grieving husband dies after wife is slain in Texas rampage



Grieving husband dies after wife is slain in Texas rampage


Irma Garcia’s family was already reeling from her death in the Texas school shooting that targeted her fourth grade classroom and killed her co-teacher and 19 students.

Then, a mere two days after the attack, her grieving husband collapsed and died at home from a heart attack, a family member said.

Joe Garcia, 50, dropped off flowers at his wife’s memorial Thursday morning in Uvalde, Texas, and returned home, where he “pretty much just fell over” and died, his nephew John Martinez told The New York Times.

Married for 24 years, the couple had four children.

Martinez told The Detroit Free Press that the family was struggling to grasp that while the couple’s oldest son trained for combat in the Marine Corps, it was his mother who was shot to death.

“Stuff like this should not be happening in schools,” he told the newspaper.

The Archdiocese of San Antonio and the Rushing-Estes-Knowles Mortuary confirmed Joe Garcia’s death to The Associated Press. AP was unable to independently reach members of the Garcia family on Thursday.

The motive for the massacre — the nation’s deadliest school shooting since the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut — remained under investigation, with authorities saying the 18-year-old gunman had no known criminal or mental health history.

The rampage rocked a country already weary from gun violence and shattered the community of Uvalde, a largely Latino town of some 16,000 people about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the Mexican border.

The Garcias loved to barbecue, 48-year-old Irma wrote in an online letter to her students at Robb Elementary School. Irma enjoyed listening to music and traveling to Concan, a community along the Frio River about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Uvalde.

The couple’s oldest child, Cristian, is a Marine. The couple’s other son, Jose, attends Texas State University. Their eldest daughter, Lyliana, is a high school sophomore, while her younger sister is in the seventh grade.

The school year, scheduled to end Thursday, was Irma’s 23rd year of teaching — all of it at Robb. She was previously named the school’s teacher of the year and was a 2019 recipient of the Trinity Prize for Excellence in Education from Trinity University.

“Mrs. Irma Garcia was my mentor when I began teaching,” her colleague Allison McCullough wrote when Irma was named teacher of the year. “The wealth of knowledge and patience that she showed me was life changing.”

For five years, Irma co-taught with Eva Mireles, who also was killed.

The suspect, Salvador Ramos, was inside the classroom for more than an hour before he was killed in a shootout with law enforcement, authorities said.

“Welcome to the 4th grade! We have a wonderful year ahead of us!” Mireles wrote last year in an online letter to incoming students.


Associated Press journalist Jamie Stengle in Dallas contributed to this report.


More on the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas:

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