Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills on Monday took issue with some of 22-time Grammy winner Jay-Z’s public comments in the wake of his entertainment company, Roc Nation, being hired to help manage aspects of the NFL’s entertainment and social justice ventures.
Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and other league officials last week and raised eyebrows when he said “I think we’re past kneeling” and made no issue of Colin Kaepernick’s inability to find a job in the NFL three years after he routinely knelt during the National Anthem to protest social justice issues, including systematic racism and police brutality.
Stills, who continues to kneel as a way to call attention to those issues, said he “felt like [Carter] really discredited Colin and myself and the work that’s being done in our communities. I think he could’ve handled the whole situation differently.
“If he were to say, ‘I see the work that Colin and these guys have been doing, and I want to partner up with the league to further that work,’ it would have been totally different than some of the ways that he answered some of these questions.
“So yeah, I just felt like I needed to let people know that speaking to each other the way that we have been, it’s not helping us get to any solution. We’re not solving anything, and we’ve got to do a better job.”
Stills, asked to elaborate on what Carter could have done differently, said:
“Well, I mean I could go on a list of things that I felt like could’ve been done or handled in a better fashion, and I don’t really don’t want to get into that. But for the most part, what I’m trying to say to people is let’s work towards solutions and let’s wait and see what goes down from this deal. You can’t really tell right now. It doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t think that it was handled the right way, but you never know.”
Asked by reporters what didn’t sit right with him, Stills said Jay-Z “could’ve reached out to Colin. He could’ve reached out to me. Some of the ways that he answered his questions. He’s talking about, ‘we’re moving past kneeling,’ like he ever protested. He’s not an NFL player. He’s never been on a knee. Just choosing to speak for the people like he had spoken to the people.
“...I wonder how many common people that he knows or that he’s spoken to. I wonder if he’s read my Facebook comments or my Instagram comments or some of the things that people say to me. To be able to speak on and say that we’re moving past something, it didn’t seem very informed.”
Stills, who has done considerable community work to help young people and raise awareness of social issues, said he plans to continue kneeling this season to call attention to key issues.
“People think that it’s a patriotism issue, and people think that’s a social justice issue, and people think that we don’t have an issue in our country,” he said. “...There’s a lot of confusion still out there. There’s a lot of people that comment on my page and have never looked at any of the work that I’ve done or any of the work that Colin’s done.
“Do some research before you’re just out here like, trying to discredit people and put people down. If you want to have a constructive conversation, do a little research, and then let’s talk about something. Leave your feelings out of it, leave your emotions of it, and come with some factual things and speak civilized. If you can’t agree on something, then agree to disagree and then go your way.”
Asked what he would say to Jay-Z if he had the opportunity, Stills said: “Honestly, I need some time to think about that. I haven’t had that much time. We’ve been playing and preparing for this season. It’s really important for me to not be a distraction for this team, but also to do the things that I want to do outside of football.
“So (I’m) really just focusing on this, but that’s something I can think about. As long as I continue to handle my business on the field, everything’s fine. I think I’ve done a good job of that the past couple years.”
TMZ reported that Carter would have “significant ownership” in an NFL team but did not reveal the team and Carter hasn’t commented on the matter. Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid called news of Carter getting an ownership stake “despicable,” adding that “Jay-Z claimed to be a supporter of Colin [Kaepernick]. [He] wore his jersey, told people not to perform at the Super Bowl because of the treatment of what the NFL did to Colin, and now he’s going to be a part owner. … It’s kind of despicable.”
Asked about Reid’s comment, Stills said: “I understand his frustration. A lot of what I’m trying to do is bring people together, so I’m not going to personally go that route; but I understand when people do go that route. I’m looking for solutions, and I’m going to try and give this man the benefit of the doubt for now, but it doesn’t sit right with me. It’s not something that I agree with. It’s not something that I respect.”
Safety Reshad Jones returned to practice for the first time since a foot injury sidelined him nearly three weeks ago. Jones said he participated only in individual portions of practice - not team drills - but assured he would be ready for the Sept. 8 regular-season opener against Baltimore.
Meanwhile, Jones said he would be OK with sharing snaps at safety this season - a scenario that appears likely amid Bobby McCain’s move to free safety. That has left coaches needing to share safety snaps among McCain, T.J. McDonald and Jones.
McDonald does his best work at strong safety; Jones has said in the past that he’s more comfortable at strong safety but was asked to play some free safety last year.
McDonald has been out with an undisclosed injury during the past week.
Last season, Jones famously removed himself from a game against the Jets, reportedly because he was part of a safety rotation that game.
But Jones said sharing snaps this season is “most definitely [OK with him]. Whatever it takes to help this team win football games, that’s what I’m willing to do. I’m going to get myself physically and mentally ready to play 16 games, play a long stretch, and like I said, when the time comes, I’ll be ready with whatever that role is….
“[Having] a veteran guy like Bobby who knows the defense and is more of a vocal leader (back there), I think it definitely will help.”
How much does the new defense take getting used to?
“It takes a lot to get used to,” he said. “Everybody is playing different positions so it’s a lot you have to learn. We’ve got to make sure everyone is on the same page. It’s a different defense but I’m excited.”
Here’s my Monday post with news on Mark Walton and lineup issues.
Here’s my Monday post with a look at Dolphins veteran players who are at risk.