The numbers say it all.
I work in the sports media career field where human beings who, like me, are the minority, literally and figuratively.
When a human being in my field not only looks like me but takes the role of leader working behind the scenes of an NFL franchise with the heart and soul to uplift – support the human beings that look like me, that is a rarity.
Jason Jenkins was that human being for the Miami Dolphins.
After the completion of play-by-play announcing games, I am used to missing text notifications; however, this text came in when I stepped in my car to drive home; at the moment, I couldn’t miss it and thoroughly read it.
It was a shock. It was tearful.
As I tried to focus on driving home, texts and calls continued to come in, no need to answer; I knew why.
Jenkins was only 47 years old. He leaves behind a wife, Elizabeth, and three children. He leaves behind a Dolphins franchise that did not have the appearance it has in the community today.
Jenkins was a Houston native and Texas Tech graduate. He loved South Florida, and South Florida loved him back. Moreover was always hands-on in building up from the places underserved and less heard—a rarity.
Jenkins was not significant on the field like quarterback Tua Tagovailoa who the Dolphins needed for a Super Bowl win. He was necessary when the earthquake in Haiti impacted the community, handing out new football equipment to local teams and holiday gifts to families in need. I have witnessed it personally.
The Dolphins won the NFL’s community service award, and Jenkins was the reason they were important off the field. The face. The heat. The soul.
The night Jason passed away, the Dolphins played their final preseason game hosting the Philadelphia Eagles in a 48-10 win. He was the main topic post-game.
“Right now, football pales in comparison,” Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel said after the game, fighting tears. “This was a healthy guy that just brought it every day. Just full of life. That’s the hardest part. There’s no words to describe it. It’s a tough one to swallow. He will be missed. He will not be forgotten, I can tell you that much.”
Jenkins’ current job title was Senior Vice President of Communications. I would always joke that he has the biggest office in the new Dolphins practice facility. I am close to being right. If I needed to speak to Dolphins team owner Stephen Ross, he was the point of contact. But I just wanted a primary media credential to cover a game, he exceeded not me just by being able to speak to Ross. Still, access to countless community events, media access, and even helping beyond my expectations. There are not enough words of gratitude.
A statement from Stephen Ross on the passing of Jason Jenkins. pic.twitter.com/YnbG97CVT0
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) August 28, 2022
Jenkins would return my emails; take my calls while at times dealing with constant around-the-clock Dolphins public relations issues, including recently Ross being suspended – penalized for tampering. Jenkins had no involvement and cleaned it up while maintaining the authentic community and family man he indeed was.
Jenkins would always hype me up the moment we ran into each other. He knew I was not a fan of it. He introduced me to his wife once as if I was the most crucial person in the room; this was Super Bowl weekend. The depth of relationships was valuable to him, especially when he knew he could change lives.
Jenkins was a board member of several organizations throughout South Florida, including Anti-Defamation League Florida, Breakthrough Miami, Dolphins Challenge Cancer, Pro Sports Assembly, Urban League of Broward County, Women of Tomorrow, and YWCA Miami.
The awards given to him with him in attendance from small to large community organizations were countless while wearing amazing suits and ties in the heat of the South Florida weather.
Jenkins was entering his 14th season with the Dolphins. The team’s success on the field has been mediocre, to say the least, in the area. Moreover never winning a playoff game during his time. Behind the scenes and in the community, the Dolphins were winning, and he was why.
Coincidently my column on the Dolphins is titled “The Dolphins make me cry,” Jason made me cry. He was the best thing about the Dolphins. He was the face of the community where joy is found.
Rest in power, Jason Jenkins.