Last night, HBO aired the final episode of Hard Knocks: Training Camp With the Miami Dolphins. Going into the show, all of the roster cuts that were featured, including quarterback David Garrard, who was released yesterday, were old news, with nothing set to surprise in the episode (other than maybe the three minutes of Chad Johnson working out - was that necessary?). However, the show did a great job of building up the work of defensive tackle Isaako Aaitui.
Aaitui was waived by the Dolphins Friday in the final round of roster cuts. When general manager Jeff Ireland broke the news to Aaitui, Ireland explained that the team really would like to bring him back on the practice squad, and give him another year to get ready for NFL football.
Then, the show cut to the next day, when the news came down that the team had lost Aaitui and wide receiver Clyde Gates in waiver claims to the New York Jets.
Hard Knocks then showed Aaitui home with his kids and wife, packing up to head north to the Dolphins' division rival.
Aaitui's career with the Jets lasted the start of one practice. The defensive tackle tore his MCL and ACL during the workout today, ending any chance he had of playing football this season. The Jets released Aaitui after the injury, with no financial obligation due to an injury clause in his contract.
Aaitui is likely to return to Miami to be with his family, but the fact that he is not on an NFL roster could end any chance he has of having an NFL career. If Aaitui remained with an NFL franchise, he would have access to their rehab facilities and trainers. Without that support, it will be up to Aaitui to try to rehab his knee to a point that he can try out for a team again next year.
Aaitui went from roster hopeful to practice squad target to 53-man roster in New York to unemployed in a roller coaster of 72 hours.
It's a sad ending to the possible start of a solid NFL career. Hard Knocks was able to show fans how a player can work hard, develop, and make enough of an impact to not only make a practice squad, but get claimed off of waivers to be on another team's 53-man roster. Now, Aaitui will only have to hope he gets another chance in 2013.