Kenny Stills famously protested what many see as systemic police mistreatment of African-Americans by taking a knee during the national anthem before every game of the Dolphins’ 2016 season.
Stills, the Dolphins’ veteran wide receiver, remains committed to enacting change but might change his tactics in 2017.
He was non-committal Wednesday about if he’ll kneel again this year.
“I guess we’ll see when the time comes,” Stills said.
“I’m doing my best to continue to work and make an impact on the community, and I feel like that’s the most important part about what I’m doing right now.”
Stills was one of four Dolphins players to kneel during the anthem before the 2016 opener in Seattle, but just he and safety Michael Thomas continued their protest through the entire season.
He recently acknowledged the backlash from those who disapproved of his demonstration was bigger than he anticipated.
And yet he has no regrets and insisted Wednesday that he would have done it with or without the approval of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.
“It was a relief that Mr. Ross was going to be standing behind us, but it was something, the decision that we made, was something we were doing regardless,” Stills said.
“That’s no disrespect to Mr. Ross, but it’s something we felt strongly about and we stand by the decision.”
The Dolphins weren’t alone in their activism. Many NFL players joined them in various ways. And while awareness of the issue has never been higher, examples of police brutality are still everywhere.
“I think here, locally, we’ve done everything we can and we’re going to continue to do that,” Stills said.
“The ride-along that we did last year with the law enforcement is something we’re going to try to do again this year and something that we’re trying to expand on throughout the league. I just try to focus on the positive things we’ve done here and try to spread the message to other guys on other teams.”
Stills’ words are backed up by his actions. He’s been the Dolphins’ most active player in the community. Stills has participated in a series of town hall meetings with both police and local concerned students and helped fund a pre-game tailgate so law enforcement and members of the community could create a dialogue.
In recognition of his work, the Dolphins honored Stills with the Nat Moore Community Service Award after the season.