Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross Says He's 'Not with Trump' on Criticism of Protests

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 1, 2017

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 24: Chairman of the Board/Managing General Partner Stephen M. Ross of the Miami Dolphins follows the action against the New York Jets on September 24, 2017 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jets defeated the Dolphins 20-6. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)
Al Pereira/Getty Images

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross recently said he's "not with" President Donald Trump during a meeting with ownership and a small group of players in New York.

Ross made his comments in response to an unnamed player, who said "this meeting is going on because the players think that some of the people that they work for are with [Trump's] overall agenda, and that's not in the players' favor."

"I'm not with Trump," Ross said of the comments made by the president, per Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham of ESPN.com. "And I don't mind anyone printing that anywhere."

Eight players—New York Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas, New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty and teammate Matthew Slater, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long, Cleveland Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey, cornerback Jason McCourty and tight end Randall Telfer and New York Jets offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum—attended the meeting.

Many other players were scheduled to attend but pulled out due to unhappiness with the commissioner's office. Roger Goodell reportedly only informed union head DeMauriceSmith of the meeting Tuesday morning within hours of it commencing.

"I viewed that as insulting to our players' leadership," Smith said. "The league tries to use some of our guys to give them cover, to get them on their side. Our players' leadership wasn't pleased, and I wasn't pleased."

NFL owners held their own meetings Tuesday and Wednesday of this week regarding anthem protests, which reached an all-time high after critical comments made by Trump at a rally in Alabama. Trump called on NFL owners to fire any "son of a bitch" who knelt or sat during the anthem. The result was a divisive Sunday and Monday, with nearly 200 players taking a knee or sitting, both in protest of racial injustice in the United States and Trump.

A number of NFL owners supported the Trump presidential campaign publicly, including seven who made $1 million donations. Some were angered by the president's comments but also wanted to find a way to end anthem protests, which polarized fanbases. Goodellsaid the league "can't" tell players to stop kneeling.

"We need to find a way where Trump doesn't win," an owner said. 

Smith said he felt the owners were using protests as something of a bargaining chip.

"It was offensive to me because, historically, there was always a question of, 'What is it going to take in order for us to buy your voice of protest?' The problem with that is, No. 1, it assumes we are doing this because we want something from the owners. And second, it's clear that once you commoditize a freedom, like the right to free speech, once you've sold it, you can never use it again."

There has been no leaguewide edict made on anthem protests. A number of teams have, however, issued statements saying their players would stand or would be performing different acts of unity before games.

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