SAN FRANCISCO -- There's a reason Ted Ginn Jr. chose No. 19 when he arrived in South Florida to play for the Miami Dolphins in 2007.
“The meaning behind number 19 is first round, ninth pick," Ginn Jr. said during the Super Bowl media night madness here.
That's right, Ginn Jr. (and his family) were drafted by the Dolphins with the ninth pick of the first round by then general manager Randy Mueller. The thinking then was that Ginn was dynamic because he had explosive speed. The thinking then was the Dolphins had to take him because Brady Quinn, the player fans wanted, wasn't accurate enough to play quarterback in the NFL.
And so Ted Ginn Jr. was the pick.
But the investment went sideways for the Dolphins because the GM and head coach (Cam Cameron) who drafted him were fired after a 1-15 season. It was their only season at their posts in Miami. And then the next regime -- headed by Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano -- didn't have the ties to Ginn Jr. that could protect him if things went sideways.
And things definitely got sideways as Ginn Jr. struggled to catch the football. Struggled to be a No. 1 receiver. Struggled to avoid always running toward a sideline to avoid contact.
The Dolphins traded Ginn Jr. to San Francisco in April of 2010 for a fifth round pick that turned out to be Nolan Carroll.
The Dolphins were happy. And Ginn Jr. was happy to get out of town and out from under the cloud of unmet high expectations.
But this is where the story gets interesting...
Ginn Jr. has not necessarily ever lived up to his draft status anywhere he's been. But he's definitely not a bust as a player. He's a good player. He has flaws, such as inconsistent hands. But he still has that elite speed.
And the Panthers used that speed to their advantage this season as Ginn caught 44 passes for 739 yards -- a career high average of 16.9 yards per catch -- with 10 TD receptions. Ginn's presence helped alleviate the devestating loss of Kelvin Benjamin to season-ending knee injury and revived a career that obviously never got off the ground in Miami and didn't do any better in San Francisco or Arizona.
And what is the difference for Ginn Jr. in Carolina compared to Miami, San Francisco or Arizona?
“Cam Newton," he said. "That’s really it, Cam Newton. It isn’t really about the ‘dab’ it’s just about who he is. I believe that if it wasn’t for him there is no Ted Ginn. You know, ever since I came here from 2013 to now, we had some great success, you know? Putting the ball in the air, you know? This year, just coming back and losing Benjamin, you know, we knew that we had to step up as one and make it work and that’s what we did."
And here is where you expect me to rip the Dolphins for getting rid of Ted Ginn Jr. prematurely, right? This is where you expect me to say he is among the list of players who enjoyed more success away from the Dolphins than with the Dolphins, right?
I'm not going to say that.
Look, Ginn Jr. is a good third or fourth receiver. He is a great downfield threat against defenses that like to play press. He is a threat as a punt returner. He's fine when he's catching footballs from a premier QB.
But he came to the Dolphins to be part of the solution for turning the offense around. He was not just a first-round pick, but a high first round pick. And even though Cameron said the Dolphins picked him to return kicks at that tragic draft day presser, fans expected their ninth overall pick to play and contribute and make a huge difference and be star almost immediately.
And Ginn never did that in Miami.
And he's never done that anywhere else, by the way.
In Miami Ginn Jr. was under that expectation cloud that seemed to overshadow him. When he stunk, and there were times like that, he was booed by fans and ripped by media (me included). When he was good -- like on that day against the Jets in which he scored both Miami's touchdowns on returns to lead the team to victory -- the narrative was he was fulfilling expectations.
Unfortunately, there were more bad days than good. And there were too many unremarkable days in between. To this day, Ginn Jr. averages 26.2 receiving yards per game for his career.
So rip the Dolphins for divesting of Ted Ginn Jr.?
Nope. I understand why they did it.