Miami Dolphins LB Alonzo talks game-saving tackle
It ended with Kiko Alonso delivering the game-ending blow on Colin Kaepernick and helping deliver to the Miami Dolphins their sixth consecutive win.
And moments later, in a Dolphins locker room filled with celebration, that was Alonso proudly putting on a headband that replicated the Cuban flag and meeting with his Cuban exile father and other family members to enjoy his enormously productive day.
In the other locker room?
The San Francisco 49ers were dealt their 10th consecutive loss. And Kaepernick, their starting quarterback, wore a Malcolm X T-shirt to his news conference, then claimed I took him out of context after an exchange we had last week about Fidel Castro.
Kaepernick claimed, “I never said I support the oppressive things [Castro] did.”
But, um, I was there. And the recording of the exchange is available. And I asked Kaepernick directly whether he was a believer in Castro, and he refused to answer multiple times.
And even on Sunday, miles from where a large community’s party over Castro’s death still had not stopped, Kaepernick continued to talk about how much he agreed with the now-dead dictator.
He said Castro instituted universal health care in Cuba and invested in the education system and supported Nelson Mandela when he was jailed. (Castro stood against racial apartheid in South Africa while instituting economic apartheid and approving the beating of black dissidents in Cuba.)
I was waiting for Kaepernick to say he liked how Mussolini made the trains run on time.
Look, Kaepernick had a good game. That is worth your respect. He is a solid NFL quarterback when his head is right.
But to come with his ongoing Castro gibberish after this game? In this venue?
The guy played in Miami and was booed the moment he stepped on the field and he and his minions still don’t understand they have it all wrong on Castro.
Kiko Alonso understands.
Alonso is second-generation. He was born in Newton, Massachusetts. He speaks Spanish because his parents do but, like mine, it is not your classic Cervantes Spanish. We mangle the language. We just do.
Even Alonso’s dad says his son isn’t fully versed in many things Cuba.
“He’s not aware,” Carlos Alonso said. “He knows about what happened with Castro dying. But he’s busy playing football.”
Yet even Kiko Alonso was aware of Kaepernick’s stance on Fidel. He had strong feelings about it. And he carried those feelings into this game.
“Yeah, it matters,” Kiko said of Kaepernick’s stance. “I didn’t read your article, to be honest. But I did see what happened. So, yeah, there were some feelings on my part.”
Alonso, his dad and I were standing outside the Dolphins locker room talking about this. And the linebacker showed that even though he didn’t suffer the trauma of leaving his home country to make a new life in this one, he still gets what Cubans think of Castro and Cuba and, generally, now Kaepernick.
“You two saw what happened in Cuba first-hand,” Alonso said to his father and me. “I didn’t. But I do have feelings about it. So there was some bad blood there for me with Kaepernick.”
Alonso finished this game with 12 tackles to lead the Dolphins. He intercepted a Kaepernick pass. He recovered a fumble. And he assisted Ndamukong Suh to bring down Kaepernick on the game’s final play.
So did he say anything to the San Francisco quarterback?
“No, I had nothing to say,” Alonso said. “Usually, I just try to play my game. But I did try to hit him.”
Alonso posted a picture of that game-ending hit on his Instagram account. One of the hashtags to the picture was #cubalibre.
A liberated Cuba.
And if you still aren’t certain what mind-set the Alonso family brought to Sunday’s game as it pertained to the San Francisco quarterback, allow them to make it more clear:
“I got interviewed earlier about what I thought of him [Kaepernick], and I said it’s about immaturity,” Carlos said. “He doesn’t know about the suffering the Cuban people have had. He doesn’t have a clue.”
Kiko chimed in …
“He’s ignorant,” he said.
“He still has no clue what a ruthless killer of the Cuban people this guy [Castro] was,” Carlos finished.
Look, this is not a rip job on Kaepernick. He is a passing blip in the grand scope of this Dolphins season.
But in a league where coaches carefully craft their team’s message and lose sleep at night worrying that even one player will go rogue and say something to incite the opponent, the 49ers came to this town having insulted a portion of the population and having provoked one Dolphins linebacker.
That was obvious to a lot of NFL people because after the game I got texts from multiple league personnel people saying they saw something extra in Alonso’s play this game.
“Cubans are very passionate,” Carlos said. “In my family there’s a lot of passion. You saw some of that today.”
Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero