Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills said the NFL should acknowledge its teams are blackballing former San Francisco 49ers teammates Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid for their role in starting the protest movement during the United States national anthem.
Stills, who took a knee during the anthem before Thursday's preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, explained to Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post what he wanted to see before he'd consider standing for "The Star-Spangled Banner."
"What would it take? It would take a lot," he said. "But I think a good first step for us as a league would be acknowledging what they're doing to Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid. You can't say as a league that you support the players and the protest and then blackball the players that initially started the protest."
Kaepernick has remained a free agent since opting out of his contract with the Niners in March 2017. Reid became a free agent following the 2017 season after five years with San Francisco and hasn't found a new team with the 2018 preseason underway.
Both players have filed collusion grievances against the NFL.
In December, Reid said he understood his decision to protest could have consequences as he prepared to hit the open market.
"I wouldn't use the word concerned," the safety told reporters. "I would say I understand that's a possibility. And I'm completely fine with it. The things that I've done, I stand by, and I've done that for my own personal beliefs. Like I said, I'm fine with whatever outcome happens because of that."
Kaepernick was scheduled to meet with the Seattle Seahawks in April, but Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported that visit was canceled after the quarterback refused to give the Hawks assurances he wouldn't kneel during the anthem if signed.
On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump once again criticized players who protested during the anthem:
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
The NFL players are at it again - taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem. Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their “outrage” at something that most of them are unable to define. They make a fortune doing what they love......
Stills said if the NFL acknowledged what's happening to Kaepernick and Reid, then the sides "can start drawing up solutions to some of these other problems."