There are some people who let bygones be bygones.
And then there’s Brian Tyms.
The Patriots wide receiver and Fort Lauderdale native who went to Dillard High School wanted nothing more than to play for his hometown team.
He went to camp with the Dolphins in 2013, and thought he performed well in the preseason. But when the roster cuts were announced, the team kept just four receivers; he wasn’t one of them.
“We see how that turned out,” Tyms said with a chuckle recently.
The Dolphins have gone 16-16 since, but Tyms is on the verge of a title. He is one of four players who have been cast aside by the Dolphins but on Sunday could reach the pinnacle of the football world.
Two Super Bowl 49 participants actually suited up for the Dolphins: Seahawks defensive tackle Tony McDaniel and Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich.
Running back Jonas Gray, like Tyms, was in camp with the Dolphins but never saw the field. They are now teammates in New England.
“When you play for a winner, you’re more relaxed,” said McDaniel, who spent four years with the Dolphins before signing with Seattle before the 2013 season. “You sleep better. The food is better. Women are better. I would definitely say the culture here is like a brotherhood. I think it starts with Pete Carroll because he always has a positive attitude about everything. Even in the most difficult situation he’s always positive. It rubs off on the rest of the team. I love it here.”
Ninkovich surely feels the same.
The Dolphins could never really find a place for him on the field during his two seasons in Miami. But given the opportunity in New England, he has flourished. Ninkovich has recorded eight sacks in each of the past three seasons, and his 351/2 since signing with the Patriots in 2009 would be second to only Cameron Wake among current Dolphins defenders.
“Sometimes you’ve got to go through a few bumps in the road to get to where you want to be,” said Ninkovich, who spent two years in junior college before enrolling at Purdue. “For me, I’ll take it. It just makes you a better person.”
Although Ninkovich has long been a steady contributor, Gray was a shooting star this season that lit up the NFL landscape before quickly burning out. His 37-carry, 201-yard, four-touchdown, coming-out party against the Colts in November made him a national phenomenon. Sports Illustrated put him on its cover the following week.
But Gray slept through a team meeting the next week, and instantly fell out of favor. He has carried the ball just 24 times in the two months since. Compounding the issue, the Patriots signed LeGarrette Blount late in the season, and his effectiveness has made Gray essentially a non-factor on offense.
“In the course of the season, as a player in the NFL, you’re going to go through your ups and downs,” Gray said. “You’re going to experience stuff. I'm sure guys like Tom Brady, he experienced stuff this year that he didn’t experience in his entire career. You approach this week just like any other week. You prepare. You hope you get the opportunity.”
Tyms has a similar supporting role in New England. After serving a four-game suspension for use of performance-enhancing drugs, Tyms caught just five passes for 82 yards during the regular season and wasn’t even active for the AFC Championship Game.
Still, he has been given a chance by the Patriots — perhaps one he never really had in Miami.
But whatever residual resentment he harbors, it’s not for his former teammates. Tyms and the Dolphins’ receivers talk on a regular basis; he is well aware of the late-season falling out between Mike Wallace and the coaching staff.
“Even when I was there, it was like, ‘We’re going to win,’” Tyms said of Wallace’s issues with the team. “It gets tiring to work so hard every year in the Miami heat, and then come to the season and you’re 7-7 and waiting on somebody. It sucks to be one of those guys, [Brian] Hartline, Mike, [Brandon] Gibson.
“When you’ve been around this road so many times, you’re like, ‘Man, something’s got to give.’ It’s frustrating.”