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Dolphins’ Vince Biegel learned ‘strong work ethic’ as fifth-generation cranberry farmer – Miami Dolphins Blog

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DAVIE, Fla. — When you drink a glass of dark Ocean Spray cranberry juice, there’s a chance the cranberries were harvested by Miami Dolphins linebacker Vince Biegel and his family from their cranberry marsh in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.

A small-town fifth-generation farmer who spent 10-hour summer days knee-deep in cranberry beds, Biegel took a unique journey to the NFL.

“The cranberry marsh was my only job growing up. It’s a hard job. It’s not a spotlight job. There’s not a lot of glory,” Biegel said. “I learned to take responsibility, have a strong work ethic and take advantage of your opportunities. Those qualities have taken me a long way.”

The 26-year-old is now a starting pass-rusher and spirited leader for a 2-9 Dolphins team that will host the Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday (Fox).

Miami traded veteran linebacker Kiko Alonso to the New Orleans Saints for Biegel on Sept. 1, and while Alonso was the big name in the deal, Biegel was viewed by some as a special-teams throw-in. But in an extreme rebuilding season, the Dolphins searched for low-cost, diamond-in-the-rough keepers. They saw potential in Biegel beyond special teams.

Three months later, it’s clear the Dolphins won the trade. Biegel represents exactly what Dolphins coach Brian Flores is trying to build in Miami.

The cranberry man

Approximately 50% of cranberries harvested in the United States come from Wisconsin — primarily because of the sandy soil. Some of that originates from Wisconsin Rapids’ Dempze Co. cranberry marsh — a family business that celebrated its 100th anniversary this summer and helped shape Biegel into the man he is today.

Biegel started working on the marsh when he was 7 years old. The Dempze farm comes from his mom’s side of the family. His dad’s side of the family was all about football. His dad, Rocky, played linebacker at BYU. Biegel’s grandfather, Ken, played football at Wisconsin-Eau Claire and is in the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Life was a steady mix of cranberries and football. Vince Biegel chose his preferred life path early on.

“Growing up, football was my main passion. I pursued it relentlessly. My dad was unique in that he pushed school first, football second and working on the marsh third,” Biegel said. “But I never considered working at the marsh as a fallback like a bad thing. Our family takes great pride in that. Honestly, it’s still in the cards. I could see myself running my own marsh one day.”

Even as an accomplished Wisconsin Badgers defender, Biegel spent some of each summer working at the marsh.

“Harvest was my favorite. Harvest is when you see the fruits of your labor come to fruition,” Biegel said. “It’s sort of like when you get a sack.”

A couple of his teammates’ eyes widen when he discusses the Dempze cranberry sauce and cranberry apple crisp family recipes. Cranberries are his favorite fruit and Thanksgiving dish. His favorite drink? Half-cranberry juice, half 7UP. The cranberry man has taught his locker mates more about his favorite fruit than they could have ever dreamed.

As Biegel explains the cranberry farming process, Dolphins linebackers Jerome Baker and Deon Lacey chuckle to themselves. They have heard this story plenty. Biegel proudly continues, “Cranberries grow on vines in a cranberry bed, which is about the size of a football field. In our marsh, we have about 70 to 80 cranberry beds, so that’s 70 to 80 fields’ worth of cranberries.”

The cranberry man always planned to leave the marsh to pursue his NFL dreams, but when it’s all over, there’s a good chance he’ll return to cultivating a bed of berries.

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Wisconsin LB Vince Biegel will be the first to tell you Wisconsin is the No. 1 producer of cranberries in the U.S. As a child who grew up on a cranberry marsh, Biegel shares how his experience shaped who he is on and off the field.

‘I love being’ in Miami

A week before the 2019 NFL season began, Biegel went from a championship contender with the Saints to one of the worst teams in football — a team that started the season 0-7. Surprisingly, he was ecstatic to join the Dolphins because of the “opportunity.”

Biegel was primarily a special-teams player with New Orleans; he played only two defensive snaps in 2018. He yearned for more. And then the trade happened.

“I really do love being here. When Miami traded for me, I knew it was going to be a great opportunity because this is a young team. It’s been all that and more,” Biegel said. “This is the opportunity that I’ve been able to grow the most from in my career from a football and leader perspective. I’m excited to hopefully stick around here for a long time.”

Biegel says being released by the Green Bay Packers — the team that selected him in the fourth round of the 2017 draft — was the best thing for his career. As a kid who was from Wisconsin and who attended the University of Wisconsin, Biegel put too much pressure on himself playing for his hometown NFL team.

“A weight was lifted off my shoulder,” Biegel said about being cut by Green Bay in September 2018 and then signed by New Orleans. “I got back to the purity of playing football.”

Dolphins linebackers coach Rob Leonard says Biegel’s strengths are his motor and his physicality: “You don’t have to say anything to Vince to get him going, so I can coach that. I can tame you down. I can’t tame you up. He lights a fire to the whole defense. I just try to channel it to get that motor pointed in the right direction. Like, scout team: Don’t kill the quarterback.”

The Biegel buzz is real in Miami. He has become a favorite of the fans, coaches and teammates in a short time.

“Biegel consistently brings the energy. He’s the main one. Sometimes it seems annoying, but he brings it every day,” Baker said. “It’s definitely important. It’s a team. Some days it can’t just be him. Some days it has to be other guys. But for Biegel, no matter what is going on, he brings positive light out of it.”

‘The wins will come’

Biegel’s pass-rush ability, success setting the edge, high motor and infectious vibe have sealed his starting linebacker role. He leads the Dolphins in quarterback hits (11), and he’s second on the team in sacks (two). The first sack of his career came in Week 2 against New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

“Brady was the guy I wanted to sack most when I entered the NFL. That was a great experience and now I want more. I want to be the guy out there to provide that spark for us,” Biegel said. “One thing my dad always taught me was effort. There’s a lot of things you can’t control, but there’s one thing you can control and it’s your effort. For me, it’s a compliment when people say, ‘Hey, you’re a high-motor guy.'”



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Ron Rivera out as Carolina coach after nine seasons

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The Carolina Panthers have parted ways with coach Ron Rivera, the team announced Tuesday.

Rivera has been the Panthers coach since 2011, and earned a 76-63-1 regular season record and a 3-4 postseason mark. In nine seasons, Rivera guided the team to a Super Bowl appearance, an NFC Championship and three NFC South titles.

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Group of Seahawks overcome flu bug vs. Vikings — ‘It was legit’

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SEATTLE — Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers and receiver David Moore went from puking to producing Monday night.

Those two were among the players hit hardest by a flu bug that started making its way through the Seahawks locker room midway through last week. They combined to lose at least 22 pounds by their counts, then made two of the biggest plays of the Seahawks’ 37-30 win over the Minnesota Vikings: an interception by Flowers and a 60-yard touchdown reception by Moore.

Six Seahawks were listed on the final injury report of the week with an illness. Several of them were sent home. Flowers stuck around and practiced while wearing an antiviral face mask. At one point Wednesday, he vomited in a garbage can between plays.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever seen somebody do that — practice with a mask,” linebacker K.J. Wright said. “But he battled. He was sick, but he came back and got his IVs and made it happen.”

Moore didn’t practice Friday or Saturday. The Seahawks had Thursday off.

“It was on Thanksgiving Day. I was just like, screw this,” said Moore, who said he lost at least 10 pounds. “I couldn’t eat. That’s one of my favorite holidays, too, because of … the food. I just felt bad. I couldn’t eat my mom’s food. I felt sorry for her.”

Flowers said he lost about 12 pounds, and he was sniffling between responses while talking to reporters postgame. He didn’t eat much on Thanksgiving, either.

“Thanksgiving was only one plate for me,” Flowers said. “It was bad. My mom’s here now, though. She’s cooking, so I’m going to get it all back. I’m going to try to tonight.”

Moore’s touchdown came in the closing seconds of the third quarter, when he got wide-open behind cornerback Xavier Rhodes on an apparent coverage bust. That pushed Seattle’s lead to 27-17. Moore’s other catch went for 5 yards.

Tyler Lockett, who was among the sick Seahawks, was held without a catch on three targets.

“It was pretty bad,” quarterback Russell Wilson said. “I don’t know if we’ve ever had that many guys miss practice and go home. Not just miss practice but have to go home for it. So it’s that time of year, I guess. But I thought all the guys played great. … You saw David Moore step in and just make a huge play for us, tremendous play. Tyler didn’t get the ball tonight unfortunately, but we were trying to get it to him, and they were just trying to stop him, but it opened up a lot of other guys.”

Defensive tackle Poona Ford, linebacker Shaquem Griffin and backup guard Jordan Roos were the other three Seahawks listed with an illness. Ford started the game, and Griffin played special teams and on defense as a situational edge rusher.

“I know a lot of teams had this flu thing, and it was legit,” coach Pete Carroll said. “Our guys did it beautifully because they really managed the attitude part of it, and I’m really thrilled about that because when you’re feeling that cruddy and that bad, and you’re throwing up and everything else you’re doing, it’s hard to have a good attitude. But these guys found a way, and guys contributed to helping them, and it was not a factor for us at all tonight. We played right through it.”

Flowers’ fourth-quarter interception of Kirk Cousins was his second pick in as many games and third this season to lead the team. He was a safety at Oklahoma State before converting to cornerback after Seattle drafted him in the fifth round last year.

“He’s really doing well,” Carroll said. “He’s playing better. He’s playing more complete a game, and his mentality is really strong, and he’s really believing in himself. It’s such a difficult position to play out there, and particularly for a guy that doesn’t have it in his history. He’s really grown into his own. He’s such a beautiful athlete, and he’s such a good competitor, and he’s a tough guy. It’s great to see him coming through and making it.”

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Browns release reserve DE Chris Smith

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BEREA, Ohio — The Cleveland Browns have released defensive end Chris Smith on Tuesday.

Smith had one tackle in nine games for the Browns. He was not active Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, even though Cleveland was without defensive end Myles Garrett, who’s suspended for the season.

Smith’s girlfriend, Petara Cordero, was struck and killed by a driver on a highway in September.

A passenger, Cordero had exited Smith’s vehicle after his 2019 Lamborghini had a tire malfunction and hit the median. The two had just had a daughter together the month before.

Smith, 27, had spent the last two seasons with the Browns, compiling two starts in 2018.

In other moves, the Browns also signed defensive tackle Justin Zimmer to the active roster from the Falcons practice squad.

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