USA Today

Dolphins Owner Does About-Face on National Anthem Comment

Stephen Ross now says he has no intention of forcing players to stand.

March 06, 2018 - 11:07 am

(CBS News) - Dolphins owner Stephen Ross created a bit of a firestorm Monday by talking about Dolphins players' plans for the 2018 season regarding the national anthem, saying that "all of our players will be standing" in a quote from the Daily News. On Tuesday, Ross took issue with the way his comments were reported, saying that he has no intention of forcing players to stand for the anthem.

Ross was one of the players' advocates last year, insisting that players such as Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas and Julius Thomas were simply exercising their rights by kneeling during the anthem as part of the widespread NFL protests. The Dolphins have oscillated on their stance regarding this, initially asking the three to stay in the locker room. Eventually, Ross changed policy, saying that "it's America and people should be able to really speak about their choices."

Ross gave a statement to the Miami Herald regarding Monday's comments.

"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 of 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."

This does not necessarily differ from Ross' comments Monday, particularly regarding his feelings toward alienation.

He said that the kneeling could be viewed as a lack of "support of our country or the military."

Ross also said Monday that Donald Trump's comments about players kneeling -- specifically that offenders should be "fired" -- changed the direction of the protests.

"When that message changed, and everybody was interpreting [kneeling] as that was the reason, then I was against kneeling," said Ross, per the Herald. "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."

The bottom line is that Ross won't be forcing his players to stand. But he sure would like it if they did.