By Charlie McCarthy
DAVIE, Fla. (Sept. 16, 2001) - Miami Dolphins defensive end and New York City native Adewale Ogunleye was about 1,300 miles away - yet he was right there.
Ogunleye was on the phone with his father moments after the World Trade Center's Twin Towers were attacked.
"My dad actually saw the second plane hit the building, while he was walking to work," said Ogunleye, who had a daily view of the Twin Towers while growing up on Staten Island, N.Y.
"When I heard what happened, I was scrambling to get a hold of my dad. I actually called him, and he told me all the stories, how it just didn't look real. I'm speaking to him, and that's when the first building collapses. Then, he just hangs up the phone."
For most of that day, Ogunleye was concerned for his parents, both of whom work in downtown Manhattan and actually use a train stop at the World Trade Center. Through one of his college coaches at Indiana, Ogunleye learned his mom was OK. But the 24-year-old didn't find out about his father until speaking to him at about 7 that evening.
Five days later, Ogunleye and the Dolphins returned to work, preparing for Sunday's scheduled home game against the Oakland Raiders. Upon arriving at his locker, Ogunleye sat down and read a message on his pager.
"That was a friend of mine who lost some loved ones - that hurts," he said. "But I'm glad to be [at practice]. Honestly, after watching it on TV every day, nothing else, it was starting to consume me. I'm trying to get my mind off it.
"I don't think I'll ever be totally over it, or at least for a long time. But it's good for a couple of hours each day if I can get my mind off it. It'll be therapeutic for me to be able to go out here and practice."
Ogunleye is just one of several Dolphins with ties to the New York City area. Quarterback Jay Fiedler, from Oceanside, N.Y., returned to work with a facial expression clearly displaying the pain of knowing at least one of the Trade Center victims.
While devastated by the tragedy, Ogunleye at least was relieved his parents were OK. In fact, his mother wanted to visit Miami even though the Dolphins game against the Buffalo Bills had been postponed.
"I told her, 'I don't feel safe with you getting on a plane now,' " he said. "It makes you appreciate your own family and friends more. Make sure you call them everyday and tell them that you love them."