To most people, the Miami Dolphins didn’t lose a team legend yesterday.
In the grand scheme of things, the man the Dolphins traded to the Minnesota Vikings for cornerback Benny Sapp will merely be a blip on the franchise radar. To the national media, he is a player with a career in South Beach no more significant than most players who have dawned the teal and orange.
But to the Dolphins fans living in the now—the fans that endured the lows of the 2007 season and enjoyed the highs in 2008—Greg Camarillo was a player of great significance, and his efforts with the team these past three years will be greatly appreciated for years to come.
In 2007, the Miami Dolphins put together one of the worst seasons in professional football history.
With horrific injuries and horribly inept coaching, it would be perfectly understandable for a player to give up, especially as November turned to December hope for a win seemed to be fading away. Entering Week 15, the Dolphins stood at 0-13 and faced a tough home matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.
When the Dolphins hung tough and sent the game into overtime, they were given a spark. Camarillo capitalized on the momentum and caught a 63-yard Cleo Lemon pass and took it into the end zone, ending a 16-game losing streak and preventing Miami from becoming the first 0-16 team in NFL history.
Camarillo earned his spot with the team and was a starter going into the 2008 season. He got off to a great start, and Miami flourished due to his play.
The Dolphins doubled their 2007 win total by Week 4, and were on their way to an 11-5 record and an AFC East championship, completing the greatest single season turnaround in NFL history.
Dolphins fans began making obvious comparisons to Wes Welker.
Like Camarillo, Welker worked his way up the ranks with the Dolphins, showing great heart and leadership along the way. However, it wasn’t until Miami traded him to the Patriots that Welker became a superstar.
All Dolphins fans were praying that they gave Camarillo a chance to become a star in Miami, and not elsewhere. While we prayed, Camarillo went down with a crippling knee injury in a November contest against the Patriots in 2008, ending his season.
Although he never lost an ounce of his toughness and leadership, Camarillo was never the same physically, and when a wide receiver revolution hit Miami this spring in the form of Brandon Marshall, Camarillo became expendable.
So from a business standpoint, the trade makes sense.
Minnesota needs a wide receiver with their top two guys at the position being serious health question marks. Miami needs depth at cornerback, as their two starters have played poorly in the first two preseason games.
And finally, with big money invested into Brandon Marshall, and a bunch of young guys with upside (Davone Bess, and Brian Hartline and Patrick Turner were drafted in 2008 and 2009 respectively) the opportunity for Camarillo to get significant playing time has dwindled.
So, this marks the farewell to one of the toughest Dolphins I’ve seen.
You were wise beyond your years, and at the age of 26 you took a veteran leadership role in aiding the young 2008 Dolphins to the greatest single season turnaround in NFL history.
I said you were the Wes Welker before you went down with your injury. Who knows, maybe you still will be that type of player?
I think Camarillo has a great opportunity to flourish in Minnesota, and will prove to be a role model to guys like Percy Harvin.
I envy you Vikings fans. You are getting a great player, and a real leader. This is someone who puts his team ahead of himself (something his new quarterback could learn a thing or two about), and he will do whatever he can to help them win.
I’m looking forward to seeing Camarillo on the field in Week 2 when the Dolphins travel to Minneapolis. This Dolphins fan will be cheering for him.