DAVIE — South Beach is undefeated.
That’s the wisdom handed down from veterans on the Miami Dolphins to incoming rookies. Just don’t interpret that the wrong way. They don’t tell newbies South Beach is unbeaten compared to all other destinations of the world.
They tell them it’s a dead end. A career-wrecker, if you let it.
Dion Jordan let it.
He soaked up the glitz and glamor of South Beach, and the booze and the drugs of Miami, until it swallowed him up, something he openly admitted in a Sports Illustrated article published Friday.
“My production was directly related to what I was doing off the field,” Jordan told SI. “I put nothing into it. I was just showing up.”
Jordan is showing up nowadays, only now it’s as a legitimate threat at defensive end for the Seahawks. Just don’t say he has resurrected his NFL career in Seattle. To say that would mean he ever began his career with the Dolphins. Three sacks in two years for the third overall pick in the draft does not constitute a career start.
No, in Miami, Jordan continues to be known as the biggest bust in team history. Rather than hold grudges, many on the Dolphins hold out hope that Jordan continues on his current path, one that has substituted Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for all-night drinking binges.
“He got the help he needed and got better, but it’s unfortunate it had to be the way it was with him leaving here,” safety Walt Aikens said. “At the end of the day, I just wish the best for him and I pray that everything works out for him.”
The same goes for Terrence Fede, a fellow defensive end who was taken one year and 231 picks later than Jordan. Irony? Fede stuck and has become a force on special teams despite being the first player from Marist ever drafted.
“South Beach is undefeated,” Fede said, echoing what veterans told him when he landed in Davie. Four years later, “I’ve never been on South Beach,” Fede said. “Never.”
Cornerback Bobby McCain can’t claim 100 percent avoidance but says once the vets sat him down, he decided he would only visit in the offseason.
“When I came here, they would all be around and let you know the ins and outs of Miami — what not to do and what to do,” McCain said. “One hundred percent, it’s undefeated. It will never lose.”
Jordan blames himself for what happened. He certainly cannot blame Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, whom SI labeled Jordan’s “biggest supporter,” someone who regularly phoned Jordan to check up on him and to offer any treatment Jordan required. Even with Jordan’s Dolphins career on the ropes amid league suspensions, Ross welcomed Jordan’s trainer, Tareq Azim, whom he did not know, to his New York estate to listen to an update.
“Getting Dion healthy is my No. 1 priority,” Ross said.
‘He did all he could to keep me a Miami Dolphin.’ — Dion Jordan, on Stephen Ross
Regarding Ross, Jordan said, “He did all he could to keep me a Miami Dolphin.”
There was a time Jordan didn’t want help from anybody. During his one-year drug suspension in 2015, he would cut off contact with the outside world for weeks while binge-drinking at his home in Arizona. Finally, his agent, Doug Hendrickson, brought Jordan to his office in San Francisco, where Jordan hugged Hendrickson and cried for 20 minutes, looking haggard.
“It was like my whole world crumbled,” Jordan said. “I didn’t have anything but football, and then I didn’t have that.”
Hendrickson got him cleaned up. He set him up with Azim. The romantic version of the story would say, presto, there’s Dion Jordan with five quarterback pressures, two hits, two hurries and one sack in 33 snaps against the Cardinals. It wasn’t that simple. Jordan’s recovery from drinking can’t be charted with a straight line, although support from Hendrickson and Azim could be.
One “hiccup” occurred while Jordan was back in Miami last season, when his comeback was derailed in part because of a knee injury. Finally in March, the Dolphins released Jordan, which allowed him to join the Seahawks, where he’d be closer to his support system — and far from South Beach.
“I’ve seen how hard he was working to get back,” said center Mike Pouncey, one of his friends on the Dolphins. “It sucked it didn’t work out here, but I think he’s going to have a heck of a career. He’s a great talent.”
Aikens shakes his head at the mere fact that Jordan went more than 1,000 days between NFL games and is still able to do what he’s doing.
“The fact that he came back and was able to ball, that shows a lot about the type of player he is,” Aikens said. “A lot of people can’t go, shoot, a couple of months and come back and be fine. He went how long? A year? Year and a half? Two years? That’s tough.”
In the end, to look at Dion Jordan with regret that it didn’t work here might be the wrong way to view it. Maybe it’s as simple as the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Maybe it’s a case study for future Dolphins draftees to learn from.
“Coming in as a rookie, you’ve got so much freedom, so much ‘South Beach’ to do,” Aikens said. “You’ve got to know your limits, man. You’ve got to know that you’re here for a job. You’ve got a task to do and you’ve got to be professional about it. Because at the end of the day, this is your livelihood.
“You want to mess up, going down to South Beach, which is undefeated? Then that’s the decision you decided to make.”