In case soon-to-be free agent safety Eric Reid‘s and other protesting players are wondering how they’ll be received in the market, here’s another suggestion it won’t be warmly.
According to Christian Red of the New York Daily News, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said that any protests performed by Dolphins players this year won’t be during the national anthem.
“All of our players will be standing,” Ross said.
Interestingly enough, his comments came before an event for the Jackie Robinson Foundation, where he was given their ROBIE lifetime achievement award for being a “longtime champion of equal opportunity.”
And while Ross said he initially sided with players who sat or took a knee during the anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality, he said he was swayed by the fact that President Donald Trump turned the anthem into a political talking point — flipping the protests into something degrading to the military, and loudly criticizing players who knelt, saying he’d fire any “son of a bitch” who didn’t stand.
“Initially, I totally supported the players in what they were doing. It’s America and people should be able to really speak about their choices,” Ross said. “When that message changed (by Trump), and everybody was interpreting it as that was the reason, then I was against kneeling.
“I like Donald. 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.”
So because many people have misunderstood (or chosen to not hear) the original intention of the protests, and because one very loud person has capitalized on that misunderstanding (or willful ignorance) and people have chosen to adopt that version, the Dolphins will not be sanctioning peaceful protest this year.
Ross discussing his friendship with Trump makes it clear that the NFL’s biggest desire in this situation is for all the noise to go away, and they’re willing to yield to the person who screams the loudest to make that happen.
That will be news to Dolphins players such as Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas, and Julius Thomas, who knelt last year. Then again, Julius Thomas is about to be released, and Michael Thomas is about to be a free agent.
And at a time when the Texans vow they won’t be treating protesting players any differently (though some disagree), it doesn’t paint a very welcoming picture for those who want to use their platform to talk about issues which make their owners uncomfortable.