While Dolphins owner Stephen Ross inserted himself back into and then tried to extricate himself from the national anthem debate this week, one of his players who kneel is taking his advocacy far beyond the sideline.
Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills was one of three Dolphins to take a knee during the anthem last year, and the only one likely to be back with the team next year. But rather than just trying to garner attention, Stills was committed to doing more this offseason.
As noted by Greg Cote of the Miami Herald, Stills documented his 10-city trip through the South, where he participated in a number of events designed to bring awareness and help causes near to him.
Among others, he spoke at a prison reform rally, spoke at a women’s march, and spoke to students at a leadership conference. He also toured the National Civil Rights Museum, walked the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and spoke at a Know Your Rights event with Colin Kaepernick.
“One of my biggest takeaways is how valuable our time is to others,” Stills wrote on Twitter, where he documented the trip. “Next time you go to write a check think about volunteering instead. Mentorship is the most direct route to impacting the next generation.”
While players such as Stills have become pariahs in certain quarters, he’s showing that he’s not simply a one-dimensional football player, and that he’s actively trying to work to improve his community and others in the process.
Ross has traditionally been supportive of activism like Stills’, but the mess he found himself in this week shows the thin line between the rights of his players to peacefully protest and the realities that it angers a portion of his customer base. But anyone angry about Stills taking a knee during the anthem would also do well to see the work he’s doing far beyond the sidelines.