The 2018 NFL season kickoff is still months away, but some owners are already drawing their lines in the sand. The controversy of the national anthem protests that dominated the headlines in 2016 and 2017 refuses to go away and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is trying to get way out in front of it before the new seasons begins in the Fall.
“All of our players will be standing,” Ross said Monday to Christian Red of the New York Daily News.
The Dolphins has at least three players kneel during the anthem in 2017, including Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas, and Julius Thomas. Those players also took the time to meet with local police department members to discuss the reasons for their protest, and what changes they hoped to achieve in the way police officers interact with minority members of the community.
Ross said that he originally supported the protest in the interest of free speech, but has since hardened his stance when people began to accuse the protests of being anti-military. We should point out here that the protests have never been anti-military, and are only characterized as such by ignorant detractors.
“Initially, I totally supported the players in what they were doing,” Ross said of the protesting players. “It’s America and people should be able to really speak about their choices.”
“When that message changed, and everybody was interpreting it as that was the reason, then I was against kneeling,” he said. “I like Donald (Trump). I don’t support everything that he says. Overall, I think he was trying to make a point, and his message became what kneeling was all about. From that standpoint, that is the way the public is interpreting it. So I think that’s really incumbent upon us to adopt that. That’s how, I think, the country now is interpreting the kneeling issue.”
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones also demanded all of his players stand in 2017, although the team knelt in solidarity directly before the anthem. There have been reports that the Kansas City Chiefs traded one of their players (at least partially) because he was among the protesting athletes. Other owners have been more or less content to allow their players to express themselves, hoping the entire issue will eventually blow over.