Wide receiver Kenny Stills did not rule out breaking the new NFL rule and take a knee during the national anthem before Dolphins games this year, but he did not exactly rule it in, either.
"We’ve got plenty of time," Stills said Thursday, speaking to reporters for the first time since NFL owners unanimously decided to forbid players from kneeling during the anthem. "I think I’m gonna continue to do the work that I’ve been doing as far as being in the community and trying to lead and do things the right way and try to make change. When the time comes where I have to make a decision, I’ll make a decision."
Stills has become the Dolphins' face of a small but high-profile protest against police brutality and racial inequality.
He has knelt for most every game of the last two seasons — first with the support of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, and then later when Ross wished his players would stand. The issue has always been divisive, but only more so since President Donald Trump has ripped players who have, accusing them of disrespecting the flag.
Ross has since been deposed in the Colin Kaepernick collusion grievance; Kaepernick and fellow ex-49er teammate Eric Reid are claiming that NFL owners are conspiring to keep them out of the league because of their protests.
Stills strongly hinted that he was not pleased with the change in policy, but stopped short of obliquely criticizing either the league or the president.
"I have not had any communication with Mr. Ross about it, but I understand his thoughts on it," Stills said. "We’ve talked plenty of times, obviously, throughout the last couple of years. I know his stance on it.”
Stills last offseason signed a four-year, $32 million contract to remain a Dolphin, but wonders if he would be similarly unemployable if he were a free agent in 2018.
"Look at what’s happening to the guys that have protested that are free agents," Stills said. "That’s my answer to the question.”
"I do understand that the message has been changed, but I also understand that as the NFL being the most-watched sport in the United States and one of the most-watched sports in the world, they have an opportunity to set the bar and set the standard and change the narrative and write the narrative how they want it to," Stills said. "I just feel like from the beginning, if the narrative would’ve been set one way and the league would’ve had our backs and really put the message out there the right way and tried to educate people on the work that we’re doing and why we’re doing it, we might be in a different place than we are right now.”