MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. and Lubbock, Texas — Jason Jenkins, who spent nearly 14 years with the Miami Dolphins and eventually became the team’s senior vice president of communications, died unexpectedly Saturday, the team said. He was 47.
Jenkins joined the Dolphins in 2009, after spending nearly seven years working with the San Francisco 49ers. He also worked at Texas Southern, Lehigh and Texas Tech — his alma mater, which asked him to deliver a commencement address in 2018.
“I’m here to tell you, it won’t be your geography that marks your journey,” Jenkins said in that speech. “It’ll be three things: the depth of your relationships, the foundation of your values and the courage of your decision-making. So my career, and life, has been awesome.”
Texas Tech said via Twitter, “We are devastated to learn of the passing of one of our own, Red Raider alumnus and @MiamiDolphins SVP of Communications & Community Affairs Jason Jenkins, who proudly spoke at our spring commencement in 2018.”
“Our hearts & minds are with his loved ones and the Dolphins family,” TTU said.
The Houston native is survived by wife Elizabeth and three children. The Dolphins announced his death during their preseason game Saturday against Philadelphia.
Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel struggled to hold back emotions after the game when talking about Jenkins, shortly after telling his team of his death. He raved about everything from Jenkins’ work ethic to his to professionalism to his wardrobe.
“This was a healthy, healthy guy that just brought it every day. … Just full of life,” a teary McDaniel said. “That’s the hardest part. There’s just no words to describe. He has a great family. His wife’s awesome, and his children. It’s tough. It’s a tough one to swallow. He will be missed. He will not be forgotten, I can tell you that much.”
Tributes poured in from other sports media relations professionals, from many leagues, on social media after the Dolphins made the announcement. Cleveland Cavaliers vice president B.J. Evans said Jenkins was “a great human being,”
“I am heartbroken,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said. “Jason Jenkins was an icon in the Miami community, and above all a kind and incredible family man.”
Jenkins served on many boards in South Florida, including the Anti-Defamation League Florida, Breakthrough Miami, Dolphins Challenge Cancer, Pro Sports Assembly, Urban League of Broward County, Women of Tomorrow, and YWCA Miami.
He also often spoke to civic groups around the area.
“Our hearts are broken and grieving the loss of a man who was a dear friend and beloved by so many people,” Dolphins vice chairman, president and CEO Tom Garfinkel said. “Jason faithfully served the Dolphins organization for 14 years, was a beacon in the community, a trailblazer and champion for others, and above all, treated people with a kindness and dignity that left a lasting mark on everyone he met.”
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)