For a variety of reasons, it will feel weird when the New England Patriots and the Dolphins take the field on September 13. So much has changed on and off the field since the two teams played.
Tom Brady now plays quarterback for Tampa Bay, while Cam Newton plays for the Patriots. Oh, and Tua Tagovailoa plays quarterback for the Miami Dolphins. Well, sort of. Eventually, he will.
It doesn't matter if Tua suits up next week or in three months. Whether you know it or not, he's already the biggest sports star in Miami without even having taken the field. Here are a few reasons why.
Miami wanted Tua long before it became a reality. Miami Dolphins fans had been musing about the possibility of Tua quarterbacking the Miami Dolphins for two years before it came to pass. The "tank for Tua" talk started in 2018, if not earlier, and ended with Miami surprisingly being able to land him with the fifth overall pick.
The only reason Miami was able to nab him at number five was that he was injured. It was meant to be. The Dolphins wanted Tua, and now they have him. Ask any Dolphins fan — that almost never happens.
Whatever "it" is, Tua has it. There's more to Tua Tagovailoa than what Dolphins fans will see on the field on Sundays. He's charismatic as can be, and it wouldn't surprise anyone if he ends up excelling in roles outside of football, like cameos in movies, at some point.
Tua has the sort of personality fans will fall in love with and gravitate toward. It's the "it" factor that doesn't come around too often.
In South Florida, football is king. As much success as the Miami Heat has enjoyed over the past two decades, football will always be king in Miami. All things being equal, a Super Bowl run will always mean more to this city than an NBA championship. It's that way in almost every town in America.
Miami hasn't seen an NFL title since the '70s and hasn't had any sustained success in football in decades. Tua, if successful, would be the hottest thing in Miami since Dan Marino.
Tua is already showing he's a great teammate. He showed up to a press conference a few weeks ago wearing the jersey of current starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. It was a lighthearted joke meant to show right off the bat that Tua is a team player, not a guy who expects everything to be given to him.
Tua has already impressed teammates with his leadership and easygoing personality. Former quarterback Ryan Tannehill struggled with that aspect during his Dolphins tenure, never truly commanding the locker room or building relationships. Tua is already light years ahead of the game.
But Tua Tagovailoa is LeBron James well-spoken. When he speaks, you listen. He doesn't waste many words, and what he says usually makes you think. He can joke around, too, but there's a whole lot more of the sort of soundbites you can listen to in the clip above.
He's already a winner. Tua is one of the few athletes in Miami who already has championships to his name. Sure, Udonis Haslem and Andre Iguodala have titles on their résumés, but they're on their way to retirement. Tua is the face of Miami and a player who comes here with a history of success.
Tua doesn't know what losing feels like. He has dominated the field his entire life. Having that sort of résumé makes him an instant star in Miami, where winning is everything if you want people to pay attention.
He's good-looking. Yeah, I said it. Tua Tagovailoa has the smile of an angel! He's a handsome dude! There are other players in the running to be the face of Miami sports who don't have the total package. Tua has the chance to be a star on the field and an icon off of it.
Movies? Sure. GQ covers? Definitely. Star power? All of it.
Tua looks like Miami. One of the best things about South Florida is that you can find a person of just about any nationality or ethnicity residing here. From the Latin community to Russians to Vietnamese, Miami has a little bit of it all.
Tua adds to that and can maybe even teach Miami a thing or two about his Samoan ancestry. Because being Samoan is a huge part of his life, Miamians will likely get to know much more about the culture. That's great, because Miami's status as a melting pot is what sets us apart from every other football city.
He plays the most important position in sports. The quarterback of an NFL team is peak athlete. There is nothing higher. The quarterback is the biggest star. Everyone else is a supporting actor.
Miami has been lacking a star at the quarterback position for more than 20 years. Tua is here to fix that, and without even taking a snap, he's the biggest name in Miami sports.
Tua is a redemption story. On top of everything else Tua has going for him in Miami, he's on a mission to prove his doubters wrong. After a terrible hip injury late last season, he managed to rehab enough that Miami drafted him high in the first round. It has yet to be seen if he's the surefire star he was predicted to be before he got hurt.
Tua's recovery is already a major storyline in Miami sports. You can be certain that once he's back to full strength, the whole town will be glued to their TV sets to see what unfolds.