The Dolphins' 'Other' TV Star

We are now less than a month away from the start of training camp and the start of another installment of HBO's tremendous series "Hard Knocks," which this year will feature the Dallas Cowboys. HBO did the show last summer on the Kansas City Chiefs, and it was an experience new Dolphins fullback Boomer Grigsby isn't about to forget.

Grigsby was one of the half-dozen or so players whose story was followed by the HBO cameras; others included Larry Johnson's holdout and subsequent contract signing; the quarterback battle between Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard; and the trials and tribulations of rookie defensive tackles Tank Tyler and Turk McBride.

The storyline around Grigsby centered around his full-time transition from linebacker to fullback.

"I loved it," Grigsby said. "Fortunately for me, the producers were very good to me. They didn't really show me doing anything bad that much. In fact, I kind of feel like I owe them some money for how they took care of me. Once they let me know I was a featured guy, I was a little nervous. I was like, ‘Hmm … this could go one of two ways. It could go great, or it could not work out so well. I could get axed in front of 20 million people.' "

Kansas City players the HBO producers were interested in showcasing were approached to see if they were agreeable, although Grigsby said they always knew when they were being filmed.

"When I thought about it, I was like, ‘If it goes good, it goes good. And if it goes bad, and I get cut, what the hell do I care what the other 20 million people think anyways, because I know I put my heart out there and laid it on the line,' " Grigsby said. "That's kind of how I was. Like, yeah, I'll do it."

The cameras showed Grigsby as much in the training room getting treatment as him on the field because he battled a rib injury in training camp last summer.

Grigsby, who had begun playing fullback in 2006 after starter Ronnie Cruz was injured, made the team and played in 13 games (with one start) for the Chiefs last season before signing with the Dolphins as a free agent in the offseason.

The gregarious Grigsby said during the June minicamp he had been surprised he hadn't gotten much ribbing from his new teammates about his "starring" role.

"Not as much as you would think," he said. "In Kansas City, I got murdered with it. I haven't even seen it. I've seen like three of them. They were playing on Wednesday nights and we were up in River Falls, Wis., which is terrible. I wasn't going to walk all the way across campus, walk up all these stairs, and watch it at ten o'clock at night during training camp. I would go to sleep. So I haven't seen them all.

"I think they're going to be unbelievable as kind of a documentary on my time playing professional football -- especially for my family. It's going to be outstanding looking back at myself 15, 20 years from now and be like, ‘What was I thinking? Why do I have a mohawk? What is wrong with me? Who is that guy? That's the kind of guy I usually want to walk across and slap across the face.' "

Grigsby might not have the mohawk anymore, but he's still sporting a couple of tattoos, one of which is Hebrew words that translate to "power, strength and valor," and the other which is the number 46 in Roman numerals.

That's the number Grigsby is wearing with the Dolphins, but it's a tattoo that goes back a few years.

"It had a lot of meaning to me," he said. "This was my high school number. There was a guy who was kind of a big, muscle guy that was before me that I remember looking up to when I was a kid, thinking I was never going to be that strong, or be able to do that, or this and that. I ended up leaving high school and it kind of became more my number than his and I never really forgot it.

"When I went to Illinois State, I was able tot get the number again and kind of do my thing for … 41/2 years there, and now I've got it again in the NFL. If I didn't have it playing for the Dolphins … I didn't even have it my first year playing in the National Football League and it still always had a lot of meaning to me. Kind of an accomplishment that I kind of had done."

Next on Grigsby's list is trying to win the starting fullback job with the Dolphins.

This summer, with no HBO cameras following him around, he will battle incumbent Reagan Mauia for the job. Both are known as excellent blockers, although Grigsby might have an edge because he's probably a better pass catcher and also is a willing special teams player.

It also won't hurt Grigsby that he's been reunited in Miami with running backs coach James Saxon, who came over from Kansas City in the offseason.

"He's another of the big reasons that I came down here," Grigsby said of Saxon, a former Dolphins running back. "I couldn't have asked for a better coach, especially for a transition (from linebacker to fullback). One of the reasons I came down here, in my opinion he's the coach that can make me the best player I can be."

And although he was a star linebacker at Illinois State, Grigsby has no doubt whatsoever he's found his home at fullback.

"I think you have to do what you have to do," Grigsby said of switching positions. "I love the National Football League. I was going into Year 3, I was still under contract to Kansas City. The best opportunity for me to stay playing was to play fullback and fortunately it turned out to be the greatest thing I've ever done. I never played it in my life until last season and I feel like I found my calling.

"I feel like it's something if I had been doing my whole life, who knows how far I could have gone with it. It's what's kept me around and hopefully it's what will keep me around for many years to come."

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