Stephen Ross: 'I Have No Intention' of Making Dolphins Players Stand for Anthem

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2018

Stephen M. Ross, Miami Dolphins owner walks the field before an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

On Monday, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said "all of our players will be standing" when discussing his expectation for the national anthem during the 2018 season, per Christian Red of the New York Daily News, but he backtracked on those comments Tuesday.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk shared Ross' thoughts that his players do support the military and police even if they protest racial inequality and police brutality by kneeling during the anthem:

"I have no intention of forcing our players to stand during the anthem and I regret that my comments have been misconstrued. I’ve shared my opinion with all our players: I’m passionate about the cause of social justice and I feel that kneeling is an ineffective tactic that alienates more people than it enlists. I know our players care about the military and law enforcement too because I’ve seen the same players who are fighting for social justice engaging positively with law enforcement and the military. I care passionately that the message of social justice resonates far and wide and I will continue to support and fund efforts for those who fight for equality for all."

It is a change of tune from Monday when Ross explained he was initially fine with players on his team kneeling during the anthem but believed President Donald Trump's involvement shifted the narrative to more of a military focus.

"When that message changed, and everybody was interpreting it as that was the reason, then I was against kneeling," Ross told Red. "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."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement during the 2017 season that criticized Trump's "divisive comments" regarding the players who used kneeling during the anthem as a means of protest.

While Colin Kaepernick first made headlines for kneeling when he was a member of the San Francisco 49ers, there were multiple Dolphins players who did so last year as well.

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas and Julius Thomas all knelt during the anthem in 2017, although Michael Thomas is set for free agency and Julius Thomas is expected to be released.

If Tuesday's comments from Ross are any indication, the owner will not direct Stills or any other Dolphins to stand in 2018.