NFL owner who is friends with Trump starts firestorm by saying he’d force players to stand

“All of our players will be standing.”

These are the words of NFL owner Stephen Ross, whose Miami Dolphins numerous times knelt during the national anthem the past two seasons.

Ross said the phrase to the New York Daily News at a Jackie Robinson Foundation event, and it was made in the context of kneeling during the anthem, as audio captured by the publication shows.

“All of our players will be standing,” Ross said. “Initially, I totally supported the players in what they were doing,” he added.

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Daily News gave a clear picture of the remark:

But Ross said his feelings changed when he felt the message being sent by players kneeling was a protest against “support of our country or the military.” Ross seemed to give a tacit endorsement of President Trump’s tweets last year, when Trump switched the narrative on the issue by blasting players taking a knee during the anthem because, in Trump’s mind, the players were disrespecting the flag and the country.

“When that message changed, and everybody was interpreting it as that was the reason, then I was against kneeling,” Ross said.

(Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis)

“I like Donald (Trump),” he continued. “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.”

Then the Daily News added:

Ross said he’s still in communication with Trump – the two men’s football ties stretch all the way back to the USFL days before that football league folded – and Ross said he thinks the president “is concentrated on making the country better.”

After the ensuing uproar due to his remarks, the Dolphins owner backed off his stance.

“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.”

Misconstrued? It was pretty clear what Ross meant with his original comments. It comes on the heels of reports from two NFL agents who deal with the Houston Texans that it’s another franchise that is not interested in national anthem kneelers.

Regardless, the word is getting out that the NFL is taking a big hit in the ratings and the kneeling during the national anthem is only making them worse.

It’s time that the NFL come to an official decision about the national anthem and take the pressure off of owners who want nothing more than to protect their franchises.

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Kyle Becker


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