When the Miami Dolphins face the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight, much airtime will likely be dedicated to the fact that the matchup marks be the first time Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins' 2018 first-round pick, will face his former team since forcing a trade earlier this season.
There won't be much else to talk about, because the game itself is a real stinker. It's actually a good thing Fitzpatrick will be the center of attention for much of the night, because he earned it, and not in a good way.
Fitzpatrick was having a subpar start to the season in Miami. In his view, he was playing out of position and wasn't a huge fan of the Dolphins' rebuilding efforts, so he (and his mom) voiced their displeasure. Now with the Steelers, Fitzpatrick is for the most part playing where he'd like, for a team that's two wins better than the Dolphins. He's the same player, surrounded by teammates who are better than those in Miami, but nothing is guaranteed in the future.
No matter what the narrative surrounding Fitzpatrick will be tonight, there remains one undeniable fact: He showed his true colors in demanding a trade from Miami barely a year after he arrived. He proved to himself and others that when the going gets tough — or when he doesn't get exactly what he wants — he runs out of town.
He proved that, as far as football is concerned, he's not the leader or Swiss Army-knife type of player Nick Saban and all the so-called experts made him out to be after a very successful yet undeniably speed-bump-free college career. As soon as Fitzpatrick got a taste of the first adversity in his professional career, he asked out.
Fitzpatrick will get to live with that decision for the rest of his career, and he'll be reminded of the fact every time he thinks about the day he was drafted into the NFL. A couple of months of hard times with the Dolphins were too much for him to bear. A few coaches — many coming from New England, AKA the Alabama of the NFL — wanted him to do something for the best of the team, but he thought he knew better.
Fitzpatrick wasn't willing to be the face of the new Miami Dolphins, as rookie defensive tackle Christian Wilkins has embraced, even as Wilkins loses more games in two months than he did in multiple seasons at Clemson.
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Frankly, how it all went down was shocking and embarrassing for Fitzpatrick. Even his biggest supporters were surprised by his trade demands and unwillingness to listen to the Dolphins when they reportedly continually tried to explain to him their plan and that he was important to the future of the franchise, which is why they had spent a first-round pick on him just a few months earlier.
Fitzpatrick, having won all of two games more in Pittsburgh than he would have won in Miami at this point, will meet the Dolphins tonight. He hasn't garnered more money or fame from the move. He doesn't have much of a chance at making the playoffs this season.
What he does have is a resumé that includes throwing a hissy fit when things didn't go his way. For Dolphins fans who are firmly on the #TankForTua train and hoping for a loss tonight, it's truly a win-win situation: Even if Miami wins, Fitzpatrick loses.
And the draft pick the Dolphins got back for Fitzpatrick improves in the process.