When you see Dolphins fullback Alec Ingold firing off the line of scrimmage, taking a running start and knocking the mess out of some Buffalo Bills defender in Sunday’s wild-card playoff game, consider what it means for him to be there.
Better still, allow Dolphins running backs coach Eric Studesville to relate to you what it means to Ingold.
“Six days post-surgery, with pins in his thumb, for this guy to tell me on Tuesday, ‘You’re not playing without me this weekend,’ I think speaks volumes to how much character he has, the toughness that he has, the mentality that he has,” Studesville said.
“I think it also speaks volumes as to how invested he is in this team, and that he wants to be out there with his teammates contributing whatever way he can.”
Ingold, the fourth-year player from Wisconsin, is the winner of the Dolphins’ Ed Block Courage Award, which is selected by the Dolphins’ athletic training staff and symbolizes professionalism, great strength and dedication. Ingold will be sporting a club on his right hand Sunday to protect his surgically repaired right thumb, which was broken and has pins inserted so that it sets correctly.
That’s no big deal to Ingold.
This game matters to Ingold. This sport matters to Ingold. Being a member of the Dolphins matters to Ingold.
“I’ll never take [lightly] the opportunity to represent the organization, my teammates, my family, this window of professional athletics,” he said.
“Sports is just so short, so fleeting, I’m going to take every opportunity I can to be able to embrace all that and put it on the field. It’s really bigger than myself, and I feel like that’s where I just want to have a whole lot of pride behind what number 30 [Ingold’s jersey number] means.”
Ingold’s on-field existence isn’t all there is to him. He’s written a book. And he has a foundation.
“It’s raising awareness about adoption and foster care,” he said of his foundation. “That’s my story, it’s my family story. I’m adopted myself. So being able to help those kids with athletic opportunities, with financial literacy skills, life skills, yeah, that’s really what we do with the foundation. And I feel like that’s just really getting started. It’s been some of the most rewarding purposeful work.”
Ingold sustained a season-ending knee injury in Week 10 last season, the final year of his contract, while playing for the Las Vegas Raiders. Ingold, who plays a vanishing position in the NFL, signed with the Dolphins but couldn’t do any on-field work while doing knee rehabilitation. He attacked the process, was healthy for the start of training camp, and went on to play all 17 games for the Dolphins this season with 14 starts.
He takes pride in fighting back from injury and fighting through injuries.
After last week’s 11-6 victory over the New York Jets, Ingold went immediately to the X-ray room at Hard Rock Stadium to make sure his thumb didn’t shift out of place.
“My hand had a little heartbeat at the end of the game,” he quipped.
Fighting through injury is one of the things Ingold values most about this season from a personal standpoint.
“I think it’s just being available, I think it’s being present,” he said. “It’s been taking all the coaching points and the challenges that had been thrown this way and turning it into opportunities. That’s just the type of person I always want to be. And I just want to inspire the locker room, fans, culture; that’s how I want to do it is by hard work and just putting it all out there every single time I can.”
As a fullback, Ingold does lots of grunt work clearing paths for running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. It’s much-appreciated.
Ingold, who played 40% of the offensive snaps and 30% of the special teams snaps this season, only had six carries for 8 yards (and one touchdown). But his 15 receptions (for 105 yards, one touchdown) and two touchdowns were both career bests.
In a way, the on-field work is a vehicle to open doors for the off-field work.
“I’ll never forget being that kid looking up to NFL players,” said Ingold, who was also a nominee for the 2020 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award and the 2022 Art Rooney Scholarship Award.
“So to be able to flip that script and be an inspiration to them, to break down barriers and walls and just be relatable to share something so deep like adoption – the good, the bad, the ugly – and be able to relate to kids on a one-on-one level, that’s more impactful than any dollar amount.”
And it turns out the charity work even has a role in the rehabilitation.
“That time, that effort, that energy is spent to really just inspire and motivate,” Ingold said of his charity work. “And I feel like those are the things that fuel purpose, that fuel motivation, that fuel drive. When you’re coming back from injuries, when you have all the things that you laid out as adverse situations for a year, those moments and those people and those eyes and those kids, they help inspire you to push through things.”
Appreciate Ingold when you see him on the field Sunday.
And if you want to feel badly about anything for Ingold, feel badly the broken thumb prevents him from playing golf for 10 weeks.
“I’m like, man, I can play football, but I can’t golf for 10 weeks, are you kidding me?” he said with a smile. “I’m pissed about that. But I’ll figure something out. I’ll get the short game dialed in.”
Mastering the short game. Appropriate for a fullback.