Two Seasons Into His NFL Career, Gesicki Happy to Be in Miami

Former Southern Regional Star Athlete Living ‘My Dream’
By DAVID BIGGY | Dec 11, 2019
Courtesy of: Miami Dolphins

Stafford Township — Mike Gesicki knows his rise to the NFL really didn’t start with his ability to run a tight slant route or sky above a cornerback to snatch a football thrown in his direction.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my family,” Gesicki said during an interview days before the Miami Dolphins visited MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford to take on the AFC East rival New York Jets on Dec. 8.

“My dad has never missed any sporting event of mine in my entire life. He’s been at everything, since I was able to start playing. Having that support from him, my mom and my sisters has been awesome. My mom has sacrificed a lot of time doing things for me – taking me to practice, picking me up, making meals for me. She always put me first before herself to help make me successful. They’ve always done anything to help me, and I’m super thankful.”

Of course, it’s a given the Gesicki family will be in East Rutherford again this Sunday when the Dolphins take on the New York Giants and likely at Hard Rock Stadium the following Sunday when the Dolphins return to Miami for their final home game of the season, against the Cincinnati Bengals, before making their way to New England right after Christmas.

Oh, and in case you were wondering what the 24-year-old tight end plans to get his mom for Christmas, here’s a clue.

“That’s a good question. I have no idea,” he said, laughing. “I recently put it out there in a group chat that whatever my family wanted for Christmas to let me know, and I’ll do what I can to take care of it.”

The fact of the matter is Gesicki has had little time to deal with Christmas shopping. Life in the NFL is a time-consuming endeavor, and one the former Southern Regional star athlete has taken very seriously since being drafted by Miami some 19 months ago.

“Probably the biggest thing I had to adjust to is just getting up to speed and understanding the differences in the defenses and coverages and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “In college, a lot of things were kind of vanilla and now in the NFL there’s a lot more depth to the schemes, and you have to be able to react quicker and know stuff on the fly. It’s more the mental aspect of the game that’s tougher. I knew the guys would be fast. I knew they would be strong. But the guys are smarter, the schemes are more challenging, and so you have to be ready for anything they’re going to throw at you.”

As a rookie last season, Gesicki played in all 16 of the Dolphins’ games, snagging 22 receptions and tallying 202 yards. So far this season, with veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick now acclimated to the Miami offense after being picked up as a free agent during the offseason, Gesicki has 37 receptions for 407 yards, an average of 11 yards per catch.

But perhaps the biggest breakout for Gesicki has been Fitzpatrick’s willingness to throw to the 6-foot-6, 250-pound target in the end zone. On Nov. 24 against the Cleveland Browns, Fitzpatrick fired an 11-yard strike to Gesicki for his first career TD catch. The following week, against the Philadelphia Eagles, Fitzpatrick tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass Gesicki went into the air to grab.

“Eventually, I knew the opportunities would come on Sundays,” he said “A lot of it is just me sticking with my process and trusting that things are going to fall into place. The coaching staff has put me in a position to be successful and then, obviously, it all boils down to Fitz, him going out there and making some plays and giving me the opportunity to go and make some plays. Things have started to go in my direction a little bit more and I just have to make sure I’m focused every day.”

Since Miami’s bye week, Fitzpatrick has thrown the ball significantly more to Gesicki. After the first four games, Gesicki had just six receptions. Since the team returned during Week 6, Gesicki has caught 31 passes.

“A quarterback has to have the ultimate trust in you as a receiver,” he said. “Fitz has been in the league a long time, and if he expects you to be somewhere – he knows what’s going to happen – and you have to be where he wants you to be.”

Not surprising, that trust is developed off the field as much as on it.

“Fitz is very personable,” Gesicki said. “There’s a huge age gap between us. He’s 37 and I’m 24, but we go out to dinner on Thursday nights and get together with some of the other guys, and it’s those things off the field that kind of translates into what happens on the field on Sundays. He trusts me to go out and make a play for him.”

After Gesicki caught the ball for his first career touchdown in Cleveland, he raised his arms and stared up into the seats. Of course, his family was excited about it.

“I don’t know what I was doing,” he said of his brief on-field celebration. “But afterward I was able to see my dad, so that was great. My family ... they were all jacked up, but they were shocked I wasn’t more excited about it. And I was happy, but I’m ready for a lot more. I didn’t want to be satisfied with one. I intend on playing a long career and I want to be successful for a long time. Every day, I have to be ready for when my number is called. I see it like, if you’re good to the game of football, the game of football is going to be good back to you.”

Off the field, Gesicki so far has enjoyed life in South Florida – where “it’s nice to be in a place where it’s 78 degrees all the time and I don’t have to worry about the snow and cold in New Jersey – as well as connecting with several organizations that assist children with cancer.

“When I was a little kid, this is all I wanted to do and now I’m doing it,” he said. “I’m doing what I’ve always dreamed of, playing the game I love as my job. I’m here working out, playing football, catching the ball, doing my thing, as I live out my dream and I’m having fun with it. I live in Fort Lauderdale and it’s a great place to live. I like the beaches. I love the people. And I’m happy to be a Miami Dolphin.”

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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