Why is it never easy with these Miami Dolphins?
Why is it seemingly always a convoluted mess of great defense one half or one series and then a fallback to giving up a winning drive?
Why is it the quarterback can put the team on his shoulders as Ryan Tannehill did late Sunday in this thunder dome of a stadium and lead the team to an apparent winning score, only to have those heroics erased by poor complimentary football and the failure to stop Russell Wilson’s own heroics?
Why is it the Seattle Seahawks, a group about as socially active as any in the NFL, can agree they are a team and unless everyone consents to showing support for a protest about the killing of some African Americans by some police, then nobody is going to do it?
Why is it the Dolphins cannot reach such an agreement?
The Dolphins on Sunday had 49 or so players and dozens of coaches and other staff on the sideline standing at attention during the national anthem. But four others decided to act out their conscience, as is their right as Americans, and kneeled during the national anthem.
On one sideline a picture of the Seahawks team locking arms. On the other sideline individuals exercising their rights to be, well, individuals.
This is where I remind everyone football is a team sport.
Why is it even the group of four Dolphins — Arian Foster, Jelani Jenkins, Kenny Stills, and Michael Thomas -- who decided to make their political or moral stand didn’t seem feel comfortable enough with that stand to go all the way with it?
Thomas, for example, stood while President Obama spoke via video feed about the Sept. 11 anniversary and what it meant. Then he knelt when the national anthem began to play. But he put his hand over his heart and he says he sang the song.
“I do care about both,” Thomas said. “Just because I want to raise awareness it doesn’t mean I’m anti-flag or anti-whatever else.
“I want unity. I want everybody to listen and find solutions. Let’s not argue what’s patriotic and what’s not, who’s anti-this and who’s anti-that. Let’s just continue to find the solutions.”
What is it with this Dolphins team of half measures?
Guys, take a stand or don’t. But be a team.
You cannot have it both ways when things get uncomfortable. And spare me acting out a protest and then telling me it’s just a way to raise awareness and had nothing to do with the flag you were disrespecting.
There is contradiction in disrespecting the anthem and then calling oneself patriotic.
There is contradiction in saying you are part of a team, part of one heartbeat, and then doing something so completely different from the majority of your teammates that you seem separate and apart from your team.
The four players who kneeled for their cause would obviously disagree with me that what they did was a show of disrespect.
And, sure enough, it wasn’t an in-your-face black power clenched-fist-in-the-air demonstration that was visible on the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs sideline Sunday.
But let’s call things as they are. It was a protest of the state of affairs in America over some police shootings of some black people. That protest came on the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks in New York, Shanksville, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon.
And, regardless of how the participants would like to paint this — Foster for example compared his taking a knee during the national anthem to church goers throughout America taking a knee on Sunday — there is not going to be agreement on this.
There’s no agreement among Dolphins fans. There’s no agreement among Dolphins coaches. There’s no agreement among Dolphins players themselves because, again, 49 of 53 on that sideline stood during the anthem.
When I went into the Dolphins locker room on Sunday, I knew the organization and those who guide it weren’t thrilled with the protest but couldn’t say so publicly because they didn’t want seem to be suppressing free speech.
But the club did release a statement that said it “encourages all members” of the organization to stand for the anthem.
Except when I came out of that locker room, I didn’t know what to think anymore because I listened to club owner Stephen Ross on the topic and he was very supportive of the four players who protested.
“I don’t think it was any lack of respect,” Ross said. “I think everybody here, our team and our whole organization respects the flag and what it stands for and the soldiers and everything. But these guys are making a conversation about something that’s very important a subject that’s very important in this country and I’m 100 percent supportive of them.”
So again, not standing for the national anthem shows no lack of respect according to Ross.
Is this real life?
At some point, folks, this football organization will come out of the fog of contradictions and deliver with exclamation marks at the end of their statements. I’m talking both on and off the field.
On the field the Dolphins did this game what they did off it: They delivered a mixed message.
For three quarters I thought the offense couldn’t do anything against a defense as fast and aggressive as Seattle’s. I believed they couldn’t run the football because 57 rushing yards on 15 attempts (a 3.8 yard per carry average). And I didn’t see much production through the air either because Tannehill had 77 passing yards through three periods.
And then the fourth quarter came and Tannehill came alive. He led that 75-yard, go-ahead drive. You had to be encouraged by this.
Similarly, anyone watching that defense the first 55 minutes had to be certain the Miami defense is going to be stellar this year. The Seahawks had no run game to speak of, playmaking quarterback Russell Wilson was contained and that Miami pass rush we were told would be great was, well, great.
The Dolphins had three sacks.
And then it seemed the Seahawks reached for something the Dolphins do not have. They found that intangible ability to simply find a way to win.
“We’ve been there before and he’s been there before,” cornerback Richard Sherman said.
“We found a way to win,” Wilson added. “We made plays when we needed to. That’s what good teams do.”
No ambiguity there. It’s direct. Clear. That’s what the Seahawks seem to be.
The Dolphins could learn this from the Seahawks.