The Steelers will take on the Dolphins Monday night at Heinz Field in a game that will surely be a Revenge Bowl for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
That’s right, I’ve been watching sports long enough to know that, if professional athletes aren’t playing with a chip on their shoulder for any number of things—being drafted lower than anticipated, not getting drafted at all, a bad season the year before, etc.—they’re seeking revenge.
The revenge factor is usually quite high after a player has been traded or cut and is back playing his old team not long after.
I’ve also been watching sports long enough to know that Fitzpatrick is a special football player, which means he’ll likely do something great on Monday night before a prime-time audience. I’ve also been a sports fan long enough to feel confident in betting my $10 to your $1 that he’ll be really intense about it afterwards and make some gesture that says, “See what you could have had, Miami?!?!”
Yes, Fitzpatrick is a quiet man, but, again, I’ve seen a lot in my day, and these guys just can’t help themselves when it comes to scratching their revenge itch.
In fairness, I’ve only read a few things from reporters and Fitzpatrick’s teammates that suggest facing his former team is very important to him, but even if he’s only slightly more motivated than usual to play in this game, my question is why?
After all, the Dolphins thought enough of Fitzpatrick’s abilities as an Alabama safety to make him the 11th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.
It’s true that Miami hasn’t been much of an organization as of late, and it became quite obvious even before Week 1 that the team was looking to tank something awful in order to obtain the number one pick in next year’s draft, which presumably will be Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (who, at this point, one can only assume will be a combination of Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady at the pro level). Obviously, the 59-10 home-drubbing at the hands of the Ravens in the first game only reaffirmed that belief, which spawned the reports that Fitzpatrick wanted out of town.
But, while the Dolphins didn’t really want to part with Fitzpatrick, they allowed him to seek a trade. I guess one could say Miami tried to derail any sort of deal from taking place by seeking top compensation in the form of a first-round pick, but isn’t that kind of a compliment?
Actually, it is a compliment, one that says, “Hey, we have a lot invested in you, and we’d like you to stick around and be a leader on this team if and when we finally get things turned around.”
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame Fitzpatrick for being upset that his new bosses were doing everything in their power to make life a living hell for him and his teammates. I mean, who wants to work in such an environment, where losing may not be openly encouraged, but it sure is being manufactured?
I also don’t blame him for reportedly being upset with how he was being used in Miami’s defense.
But, hey, it only took a grand-total of 18 games for Fitzpatrick’s first employer to ship him off to his second employer and a much better work environment. That took place on September 16, when Pittsburgh sent its 2020 first-round pick to the Dolphins in-exchange for Fitzpatrick’s services.
With the Steelers, Fitzpatrick has quickly emerged as a leader on defense and one of the cogs that makes Keith Butler’s unit go.
He looks like a future superstar safety and one that will be compared to, yes, Troy Polamalu for many years to come.
Not since Jerome Bettis arrived here from the Rams in 1996 has a player seemed more like a perfect fit in Pittsburgh.
As I alluded to earlier, I don’t really know how Minkah Fitzpatrick is feeling right now as he prepares to face his former team on Monday Night Football.
But, if I’m him, I’m not seeking revenge. I’m seeking the nearest Hallmark section so I can send the Dolphins a “Thank You” card.