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Dolphins Tread Water Against Woeful Jets Amid National Anthem Debate

written by Ian Hest

It was a beautiful, diving touchdown catch from Devante Parker as time expired in the game.

It was also entirely meaningless.

The 20-7 loss to rival New York Jets, one of the worst teams in the NFL, left the Miami Dolphins feckless and frustrated, casting a cloud over what last week was a promising start to the season.

Just how bad was it? Here’s the entire chronological list of Dolphins drives throughout the game: Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Interception (thrown by the Punter), Turnover on Downs, Turnover on Downs, Interception, Touchdown. Game over.

That level of futility put Miami in jeopardy of being shut out for the first time since 2013. Only the Parker dive at the end avoided that.

A 69-yard touchdown from Josh McCown to Robby Anderson was the highlight 30 minutes into the game. Gaining only 49 yards on 24 plays through the first half, Miami was down 10-0 at the break.

But if halftime adjustments were to be hoped for, they surely fell short of the bar, as the Dolphins were dominated in almost every aspect of the game.

Much of the attention around the NFL was given off the field due to previous remarks made by President Trump at a rally in Alabama, in which he called players who didn’t stand for the national anthem “sons of b******.”

Six Dolphins kneeled during the anthem, while the rest of the team, including owner Stephen Ross, locked arms. Several players and coaches wore black t-shirts before the game that read “#ImWithKap,” a reference to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began his protest against police brutality and racial injustice by sitting and kneeling for the anthem last year.

“It just amazes me with everything else that’s going on in the world, especially with the U.S., that’s what you [President Trump] are concerned about?” Dolphins safety Michael Thomas, one of the players who kneeled, said. Thomas did not kneel in the first game. “I’ve got a daughter. She’s going to have to live in this world. I’m going to do whatever I’ve got to do to make sure she can look at her dad and be like ‘You did something. You tried to make a difference.’”

The Dolphins (1-1) next game is in London next Sunday where they will face the New Orleans Saints (1-2). The games is at 9:30 a.m. ET and will air locally on Fox.

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The Boca Interview: Lane Kiffin

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This is an excerpt of an interview in our September/October 2017 issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to the magazine


One of college football’s most controversial coaches gets a fresh start at FAU

Written by ALLISON LEWIS

Photos by JASON NUTTLE

Lane Kiffin has one of the most storied careers in American football history. He’s been hired and fired, loved and hated, by some of the best teams in the Pac-12, NFL and SEC.

Late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis fired Kiffin, the NFL’s youngest head coach, in 2008 after a 4-12 season. USC did the same in 2013 after a 64-21 loss to Arizona State. His short stint at Tennessee left fans and students dismayed, then angry, when he started trolling them on Twitter. In January, University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who signed an eight-year extension with the organization, relieved Kiffin, his offensive coordinator, eight days before the Tide’s upsetting loss to Clemson for the 2017 national championship.

Compare this to Florida Atlantic University, whose football program has seen similar ups and downs since its inaugural 2001 season. Legendary head coach Howard Schnellenberger led the Owls to a Sun Belt Conference championship title in 2007 and their first bowl invitation (New Orleans Bowl) the same year. Following his retirement in 2011, FAU hired Carl Pelini as Schnellenberger’s replacement in 2012. Pelini was fired after admitting to illegal drug use, and interim head coach Brian Wright finished the season with bowl eligibility in 2013. Charlie Partridge took over in 2014 and was fired in 2016 after three consecutive 3-9 seasons.

FAU’s president, John Kelly, set out to find a replacement, sitting in on each candidate interview. “I wanted a coach who could take us to the top 25,” he says.

By mid-December 2016, fate intervened. FAU needed a coach; Kiffin needed a job.

“We wanted Lane Kiffin or a Lane Kiffin-type coach,” President Kelly says. “And we got what we wanted.”

So did Kiffin. He’s now head coach of the FAU football program.

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Kiffin’s football legacy started early, as captured in a black-and-white photo displayed on the credenza in his office. Young Lane and his father, Monte Kiffin, are on the sidelines at North Carolina State University, where Monte held his only head coaching job from 1980 to 1982. The caption reads: “Dad and son clown around … NCSU head coach, Monte Kiffin, holds his 5-year-old son Lane atop his shoulders. …” Lane points a finger, his mouth agape, as if hollering at someone.

Today, Kiffin, 42, is a soft-spoken, sarcastic guy with sandy blond hair and brown eyes. He uses Twitter to invite Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West to Owls games, and shares questions like: “Is sand called ‘sand’ because it is between the sea and the land????” Someone close to him likened him, with affection, to “a diva.”

Sometimes, he works out at 5 a.m. with Wilson Love, FAU’s head strength coach. He’s always living and breathing football, a trait that remains constant, despite his regular rotation through NFL and college football teams.

Plenty have offered skepticism about Kiffin’s recent appointment, for one reason or another: his questionable hiring of offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, a former Baylor University coach who is facing litigation for allegedly coercing football prospects with sex while at Baylor; a lawsuit filed against Kiffin by former Alabama wide receiver Antonio Carter, alleging the head coach misled him about a football job at FAU.

Despite it all, Kiffin remains focused on his players and this year’s season, which started Sept. 1 with a match against the Navy Midshipmen.


FAU is different from your time at Alabama in many ways. Why exactly did you take this job?

The president is really committed to a winning football program. … If you look at the track record of the schools over years and years and years, almost every Florida school at some point has won. There’s a reason for that, and the reason is there are great players here. And you get to live in Boca.

What excites you about coaching FAU football?

In the interview process, it was apparent they were excited about winning and doing things differently than they’ve done before. When you go to a place that hasn’t won for a while and you do [win], it’s actually more exciting than [when] you go to a place that’s already been winning and you just keep winning. I’m excited.

Do you have plans to start recruiting more from area high schools?

We do. As we move into the next class going forward, we want the majority of that class to be from Florida, especially from South Florida, because of the quality of players and the quality of coaching here.

FAU has gone three seasons winning only three games. How imperative is it to change that record?

That’s the No. 1 goal. That’s why you’re hired. First step was putting together a really good staff. Now we’ve got to keep working with our players, continuing to recruit and then, as we get closer to it, managing the game so that those close games we win in the fourth quarter.

What’s your vision or dream for this football team and your first season at FAU?

We don’t really … say, ‘We’re aiming to have a championship in Year X,’ whenever that is, because there’s too many variables in football. It still is a team sport. It’s got 85 players on a roster. You get all kinds of variables. Injuries—more injuries probably than any other sport. All we do is try to work to be the best we can in that year, on that day.

How do you plan to get more involved with the Boca community?

We talk about that weekly. We’re still trying to get out as much as we can and meet as many people as we can. It’s unusual to be at a place where there are so many people that don’t know about the football program. We’re always trying to come up with ideas and do the best we can to change that.

Do you plan to stay in South Florida long-term?

We don’t really look at things that way. I’m in a different stage of my life than I would have been had you asked that five to 10 years ago. As you’re younger you’re trying to find the bigger, better job or [higher] salary, or whatever. Sometimes you start to realize it’s more important to find a place where you really feel comfortable, you really like the people that are there and you really feel something special—and a place you want to live, too.

Allison Lewis is the associate editor at Boca Raton Magazine and a native St. Louisan. She earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo. In her spare time, Allison enjoys cooking, playing Ultimate frisbee, reading, traveling and watching sports.
Smokin' Rays Pork Wings. Photo by Aaron Bristol.

How To Tailgate Like a Pro With Smokin’ Ray Rutenis


This video is part of our “Parking Lot Party” story in the September/October 2017 issue. For more content like this, subscribe to the magazine

Smokin’ Rays Short Rib Sliders

Pork Rib Sliders. Photo by Aaron Bristol.

Shot Rib Sliders. Photo by Aaron Bristol.

Yield – 1 dozen sliders, prep – 4.5 hours, tailgate – 10 minutes

  • 4 lbs. short ribs of beef
  • 4 tbsp. SmokinRays® BBQ Rub
  • 4 tbsp. bacon (diced)
  • 2 onions (chopped)
  • 2 carrots (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ cups beef broth
  • Mini hamburger buns

To cook:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Remove any membranes (or silverskin) from short ribs.
  3. Cover BBQ Rub into the ribs.
  4. Using a cast iron or other heavy wide skillet or pan that is also ovenproof, sweat the bacon until fat covers skillet. Add short ribs and brown on all sides.
  5. Remove ribs and brown onions, carrots then garlic.
  6. When browned, pour off all but a small portion of the drippings remaining in pan.
  7. Add remaining ingredients and bring the sauce to a boil, then cover the pan and transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 3.5 to 4 hours, basting occasionally.
  8. Remove ribs from skillet and let rest. Boil the liquid until thick and strain.
  9. Place in refrigerator until game day.
  10. At tailgate, slice in 2-ounce pieces and warm on grill, brushing with reduced sauce. Serve on small buns with BBQ sauce and melted cheese.

Tip: Chef Ray likes gouda cheese!

Roasted Corn Salsa

Roasted Corn Salsa. Photo by Aaron Bristol.

Roasted Corn Salsa. Photo by Aaron Bristol.

Yield – 10 servings, time – 30 minutes

  • 2 fresh corn on the cob (shucked)
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1 small cucumber (peeled and seeded)
  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, roasted (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 red onion (small diced)
  • 3 tbsp. fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. SmokinRays® Herb Citrus
  • As needed SmokinRays® All Mixed Up (optional)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

To cook:

  1. Roast corn in broiler and cool.
  2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and chill in refrigerator.

Tip: Use All mixed up for spicier mix.

Smokin’ Rays Pork Wings

Smokin' Rays Pork Wings. Photo by Aaron Bristol.

Smokin’ Rays Pork Wings. Photo by Aaron Bristol.

Yield – 1 dozen, prep – 15 minutes, tailgate – 15 minutes

  • 1 dozen pork wings (already cooked)
  • SmokinRays® Pork Rub (as needed)
  • 12 bacon strips (thin sliced)
  • BBQ sauce (optional)
  • Toothpicks
  • Pam spray

To cook:

  1. Thaw pork wings in refrigerator overnight.
  2. Cover wings with Pork Rub.
  3. Spiral wrap each wing with bacon and secure with toothpick.
  4. Spray with Pam and cook on grill until bacon is crispy (165 degree internal temp).
  5. Brush with bbq sauce and enjoy.

Gator Jello Shots

Go Gators! Photo by Aaron Bristol.

Go Gators! Photo by Aaron Bristol.

Yield – 16, 2-ounce shots

1st stage:

  • 3 ounces gelatin (flavorless)
  • 1 cup boiling Gatorade (blue)
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) vodka
  • 1/2 cup Gatorade (blue)

2nd stage:

  • 3 ounces gelatin (flavorless )
  • 1 cup boiling Gatorade (orange)
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) vodka
  • 1/2 cup Gatorade (orange)

To make:

  1. Combine the liquor and cold Gatorade and place in the refrigerator so they are a consistent temperature. You should have 1 cup of cold liquid.
  2. Pour the gelatin into a bowl.
  3. Add boiling water, stirring until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
  4. Stir in the chilled liquor and cold Gatorade mix. Add food coloring if you want to enhance or change the color.
  5. To make layers, begin by making one flavor of jello shot and fill cups 1/2 or 1/3 of the way full. Chill these until almost set (about 1 to 1 ½ hours) then add the next flavor.

With this basic recipe your can change flavors and colors to promote your own team.

For non alcoholic substitute the vodka for Gatorade

Aaron Ekblad wields a rainbow hockey stick. Photo provided by the Florida Panthers.

Florida Panthers’ Aaron Ekblad to Gay Athletes Scared of Coming Out: “Don’t Be Afraid.”

Aaron Ekblad wields a rainbow hockey stick. Photo provided by the Florida Panthers.

Aaron Ekblad wields a rainbow hockey stick. Photo provided by the Florida Panthers.

The world of hockey is ultra-masculine. Big egos, macho attitudes and “boys will be boys” aggression all come with the sport.

That said, when 21-year-old Aaron Ekblad, the 6’4” defenseman and alternate captain for the Florida Panthers, appeared in a Nike commercial promoting LGBT pride in June, it, of course, got people talking.

Was his appearance in the commercial some sort of mistake? Nope.

Ekblad, the National Hockey League’s 2015 rookie of the year, is one of many young athletes who not only believe in LGBT representation in professional sports, but who are becoming increasingly vocal about it. “It was a great experience,” Ekblad tells Boca, about appearing in the commercial. “On Facebook and Twitter some people congratulated me and thanked me for speaking out. I appreciated that.”

In the advertisement, which features Nike’s new BeTrue line of clothing, Ekblad dons a black shirt that says “Equality” in rainbow lettering. He appears alongside basketball player Brittney Griner, who identifies as lesbian; skateboarder Lacey Baker, who identifies as queer; and 41-year-old skateboarding legend Brian Anderson, who came out as gay last year.


In interviews, Anderson admitted that the reason it took him several years to come out was a culmination of factors. Mainly, he felt pressured to be straight or at least hide being gay, and he was scared that a negative reaction to his true sexual orientation would harm his career.

Ekblad says that he hopes this fear of being discriminated against diminishes in the years to come, and he has a strong message to LGBT athletes who are scared of coming out.

“Don’t be afraid. You’ll be surprised by how many people are accepting,” he says, elaborating on how sports teams across the U.S., particularly hockey teams, have become friendlier in recent years—at least in official parlance—toward LGBT individuals.

Aaron Ekblad. Photo provided by the Florida Panthers.

Aaron Ekblad. Photo provided by the Florida Panthers.

Although homophobic talk still occurs in locker rooms, Ekblad believes that overall, society’s tolerance for and acceptance of LGBT people has progressed. Though Ekblad is not LGBT, he says he identifies as an ally, someone who is openly supportive of the LGBT community.

“Do I think it’s getting better? I think so. People are getting more educated and more understanding,” he says. “I would like to think the climate is getting better.”

When it comes to inclusion in sports, Ekblad’s stance is clear. He doesn’t believe that sexual orientation should be a factor when deciding whether someone is allowed, or welcomed, to compete on the ice. “If you’re good enough to play, you’re good enough to play on my team,” he says.

Ekblad’s spirit is not shared at the White House, as President Donald Trump recently rolled back an Obama-era directive that allows transgender people to serve in the military.

Since sports commentators such as Georges Laraque have reportedly said there are same-sex attracted men in, perhaps, every team in the NHL, Ekblad’s encouragement of coming out speaks to a new standard of manliness and macho attitudes in professional hockey—one where virility isn’t based on being straight, but is founded on just being yourself and allowing others to be, too.

“I hope it helps a little bit,” Ekblad says about his appearance in the Nike commercial. “I’m just trying to do my part on helping people become more accepting.”

Jonathan Kendall is an editor and writer based in South Florida. He writes for several award-winning publications, and is a 2016 graduate of Harvard University, where he studied journalism under several Nieman fellows. His byline appears in Atlas Obscura, Bal Harbour Magazine, bocamag.com, Cultured, Miami New Times, New Times Broward-Palm Beach and more.
The Florida Panthers' Michael Haley helps a Learn To Play participant sign a mock contract to the hockey team. Photo provided by the Florida Panthers.

Florida Panthers Aim to Teach, Make Hockey Accessible to Local Youth

The Florida Panthers' Michael Haley helps a Learn To Play participant sign a mock contract to the hockey team. Photo provided by the Florida Panthers.

The Florida Panthers’ Michael Haley helps a Learn To Play participant sign a mock contract to the hockey team. Photo provided by the Florida Panthers.

The Florida Panthers’ Michael Haley helped initiate kids into the world of ice hockey last weekend. Haley was part of the team’s Learn To Play program, which invites local children to get fitted into gear and sign mock contracts to join the big leagues.

During Sunday’s event, which took place at the BB&T Center, Haley donned his red Panthers jersey and took photos beside dozens of 5-to 9-year-old kids. “Once they get a taste of hockey, it’s hard to get out of your system.” Haley tells Boca. “Anytime you can introduce the sport of hockey, and especially with giving them gear, I’m sure they’ll have lots of fun.”

Now that the boys and girls have been fitted into gear, they will participate in a six-week long course, taught by Florida Panthers Alumni and USA Hockey Certified Coaches, with the aim of turning them into the next generation of hockey players and fans.

“Learn to Play is a pivotal part of the Florida Panthers outreach efforts. Our goal is to introduce kids to the sport and put sticks in kids’ hands,” said Panthers Director of Community Relations John Colombo. “ With Learn To Play we are able to provide equipment and on-ice training at an affordable cost for all families in South Florida to have the opportunity to allow their children to get out and try the sport of hockey.”

In conjunction with USA Hockey’s “Gold Standard,” which uses an age appropriate long-term developmental model, the curriculum of the Learn To Play program is designed to ensure that kids not only have fun, but also learn the skills necessary to play the game well.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to introduce my son to a sport I didn’t think he’d be able to play,” says Kimberley Miller about her 8-year-old son, Finnley. “He’s so excited. He has not put his stick down since he received it and I’ve never seen him take to a sport so quickly.”

There are still slots open for sessions during the summer. If you are interested in signing your kids up for the August classes, you can sign up at Palm Beach Skate Zone. If September works better for you though, you can sign your kids up at the Florida Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs.

The cost of entry is $150 and every participant will be given equipment that they can use during the program and keep at the conclusion of their course. To learn more about the event, you can read more by clicking here.

Jonathan Kendall is an editor and writer based in South Florida. He writes for several award-winning publications, and is a 2016 graduate of Harvard University, where he studied journalism under several Nieman fellows. His byline appears in Atlas Obscura, Bal Harbour Magazine, bocamag.com, Cultured, Miami New Times, New Times Broward-Palm Beach and more.