MIAMI, FL--The Miami Dolphins were embarrassed yesterday when dozens of needy families rejected their offer of free Thanksgiving turkeys. The annual turkey giveaway is normally a big hit among poor families in the Miami area, but the Dolphins’ awful performance this year has alienated them from fans. Many hungry families said they had too much pride to accept charity from the Miami Dolphins.
“No thanks. I can’t bring myself to meet those guys, shake their hands, and thank them for the turkeys,” said Will Meggete, 42, who lives with his two children in a Buick station wagon. “It’s a nice gesture, but have you seen the way they’ve been playing this year? Ugh. The last thing I need right now is to be face to face with those guys. I might be poor and destitute, but I still have my pride.”
Meggete admitted that his children are starving, but still refused to accept a free thanksgiving turkey from the Dolphins.
“Yes, I know, it tugs at my heartstrings to see my children begging for morsels of food,” he said, “but as a father, you must teach them to have self respect and dignity. If we went to that soup kitchen and received a turkey, we would’ve been fed for a day, sure. But if you teach a child to avoid the 2004 Miami Dolphins, you feed him for a lifetime.”
Dolphins players were shocked and saddened by the small turnout for this year’s turkey giveaway. Last year saw over three thousand people show up and fawn over superstars Zach Thomas and Jay Fiedler. This year only twenty-five people came, and most of them were expecting to see the Miami Heat.
“Where the hell is Shaq?” asked one disgruntled homeless man, staring at a row of Dolphins players holding turkeys. “Where’s Dwyane Wade? I thought someone said the Heat was gonna be here. You don’t look like the Heat. You look like the Dolphins. You’re Jason Taylor, and you’re Travis Minor, and you, you over there, you’re A.J. Feeley. You want me to take a turkey from A.J. Fucking Feeley? He’d probably fumble it on the handoff.”
Zach Thomas, who attended the turkey giveaway the past four years, couldn’t understand the lack of turnout.
“I don’t understand it,” said Thomas, shaking his head. “I know we’re having a tough season but I figured someone would show up for free food. These people haven’t eaten in days. You’d think they would want to get a free goddamn turkey. I guess things are going pretty bad for your team when you can’t give food away to starving people.”
Head coach Jim Bates described seeing homeless people in rags turn around and leave once they discovered the Miami Dolphins were inside. Even the children wanted nothing to do with them.
“Whew, that was harsh. These people must really despise us,” said Bates. “This one kid walked up to the table, must’ve been twelve years old, looked like he just walked out of an orphanage. He said ‘Please, kind sir, may I have but a crumb of food? I am starving.’ So I handed him a turkey. Just before he walked away he noticed my Dolphins sweatshirt and asked me if I played for the Dolphins. I told him yes, and he dropped the bird on the floor like it was radioactive. Then he stormed out. The whole time I’m thinking, ‘Hey, don’t blame me. I’m only the interim coach.’”
Things got so bad that organizers had to ask the Dolphins to leave just so they could get rid of the turkeys. Suzanne Welsch, director of the Helping Hand soup kitchen, sent the players home and passed out the food herself.
“Um…I do want to thank the Dolphins for their time, but clearly this was a bad idea,” she said. “I’ve been doing this ten years and it’s always a rousing success. I guess I just underestimated how bad this team really is. People were literally peeking in the window and then walking away in disgust—I’m talking about poor, starving women and children. But I don’t blame the players. I blame myself. Even starving people have pride. It was wrong of me to insult them.”
After the players left, Welsch placed a sign on the window stating that the Dolphins had left and there were hundreds of turkeys waiting to be given away. Within minutes, the soup kitchen was packed with needy, appreciative families.
One woman, who asked not to be identified, said she felt sorry for the Dolphins players but was not surprised by the people’s reactions.“It was kind of mean for everyone to just diss them like that,” she said. “I’m sure they’re all really nice guys but nobody around here wants to be associated with them right now. Sure, turkey’s are tasty and most of us don’t have a pot to piss in, but you’ve got to draw a line somewhere. I couldn’t enjoy that bird knowing that it was given to me by a member of the 2004 Dolphins. I’d probably throw it up. But hey, they’ve got the top draft pick next year so hopefully things will improve. I’d hate to see my children starve to death.”
Copyright 2004, The Brushback - Do not reprint without permission
Needy Families Turn Down Free Turkeys From Miami Dolphins
|November 9th, 2004- Volume 1 Issue 74|