Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, an advocate for players kneeling in protest during the national anthem in the past, has changed his view of how that time before NFL games should be handled because President Donald Trump has changed the meaning of what it means to protest at that time.
"Trump has made [standing for anthem] about patriotism,” Ross said before the Dolphins game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. “It's so important if that's what the country is looking at to look at [the protest] differently.”
And so Ross now believes all NFL players and certainly his players -- the Dolphins have had players kneeling for all but one of their past 19 games dating back to last season -- to all stand. Ross wants the Dolphins to stand before Sunday’s game when a military band will play the national anthem.
Despite what Ross believes, three Dolphins continue their protest. While all players on the field stood during the anthem, three -- Kenny Stills, Julius Thomas and Michael Thomas -- remained off the sideline during the anthem. They came onto the sideline after the anthem concluded.
“Its a different dialogue today,” Ross said, noting the issue last year was raising awareness for equality and other issues that didn’t involve patriotism. “Whenever you’re dealing with the flag, you’re dealing with something different. [the President] has changed that whole paradigm of what protest is. I think it’s incumbent upon the players today, because of how the public is looking at it, to stand and salute the flag.”
Ross remains an advocate of unity within diverse communities -- including minority communities and wants an ogoing conversation about racial equality. His RISE program continues to hopeps community leaders, youth and law enforcement to bring the groups together.
But since President Trump tweeted weeks ago that NFL players should be fired for not rising during the national anthem, and a good many fans have agreed with him, Ross has apparently evolved on his thinking whether protesting during the anthem is appropriate.
Ross continues to believe in issues of equality. But he doesn’t want to be perceived as being against the country or unpatriotic.
Follow Armando Salguero: @ArmandoSalguero