Miami Dolphins staff had a connection to slain football coach, decide to take action


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When we think of sports heroes in Miami, names like Dan Marino and Dwayne Wade immediately come to mind.

But after what happened at a Florida high school last week, we should be thinking of Aaron Feis.

No matter how many touchdowns or baskets anyone makes, nobody deserves our admiration more than this man.

Feis, an assistant football coach at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, died in Wednesday’s shooting at the school. He was one of 17 fatalities.

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Because he gave his own life, many others were able to continue theirs.

Feis pushed several students to safety, and shielded a ninth-grade girl from gunfire, only to be fatally struck himself.

Saturday, the Miami Dolphins honored the fallen hero, and did it in a big way.

Darren Rizzi, an assistant coach with the Dolphins, spearheaded a collection among the team’s staff to help Feis’ family, raising $17,500 in just a couple of days.

Rizzi felt a sense of obligation, as he got to know the late coach from recruiting trips when Rizzi worked at Rutgers University, and was introduced by a Douglas High assistant, Elliot Bonner.

“Aaron was just a tremendous person. I got to know him a little bit through coach Bonner. But just from what he did and his heroics, I don’t know if you can really put it into words,” Rizzi told the Orlando Sentinel. “There’s a lot of speculation about what happened, but I do know coach Feis was a hero.

“I think a lot of people look at NFL coaches and players and they watch on Sunday and think those are heroes. People like coach Feis are the real heroes — people that are in high schools working with young people every day and formulating young people into doing the right things.”

Rizzi presented the check to Feis’ brother, Ray, on behalf of the Dolphins family.

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Ray Feis said he was appreciative of the donation, but admitted he was still in shock.

“I am very appreciative of the community as well as the Dolphins organization, and just all the support for not only my family but all of the other families that were affected by this,” Feis said. “It’s just too soon. There is a grieving time that needs to take place.”

Bonner, who coached Feis as a student-athlete, saw his fellow coach’s final act of bravery.

“He’s just a great person,” Bonner said. “I liked him because he was always straight-forward. He wasn’t a bush-beater. He went through the bushes.”

“I’m not surprised at all,” Bonner said, adding that he saw Aaron Feis get shot. “He means what he says, and he doesn’t back down.”

And because Feis wouldn’t back down, an untold number of students are with their families this weekend.

In honor of  Feis, the Dolphins also donated $1000,000 to a GoFundMe drive for victims of the shooting that was established by Broward County Education Fund. As of Saturday afternoon, more than $1.3 million had been raised.

Even in death, Feis is helping people.

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Mike is an 11-time Michigan Emmy Award winner who has spent nearly 30 years working in sports media.
Mike has spent nearly 30 years in all aspects of sports media, including on-air, 10 at ESPN and another 10 at Fox Sports Detroit. He now works as a TV agent, and lives with his family in West Bloomfield, MI.
Sudbury, Massachusetts
11-time Michigan Emmy winner
Emerson College
Books Written
The Longest Year: One Family's Journey Of Life, Death, And Love/If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Tigers/If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Lions
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