While in New York City to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Jackie Robinson Foundation, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told The New York Daily News that the team's players will not kneel during the national anthem moving forward.
"All of our players will be standing," Ross told the newspaper.
Ross, 77, said that he was initially supportive of players who kneeled during the anthem, a gesture that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others have described as a means of protesting police brutality and racial inequality. Ross told The Daily News he believed that "people should really be able to speak about their choices."
But Ross said his feelings changed when he felt the demonstrations instead became protests against "support of our country or the military." President Donald Trump has been arguably the most vocal purveyor of this point of view, repeatedly blasting the NFL, its players and commissioner Roger Goodell as disrespectful of the armed services.
"When that message changed, and everybody was interpreting it as that was the reason, then I was against kneeling," Ross told The Daily News. "I like Donald (Trump). I don't support everything that he says.
"Overall, I think he was trying to make a point, and his message became what kneeling was all about. From that standpoint, that is the way the public is interpreting it. So I think that's really incumbent upon us to adopt that. That's how, I think, the country now is interpreting the kneeling issue."
Ross added that he still speaks to Trump; the men were both majority owners of teams in the United States Football League in the 1980s.
According to The Miami Herald, the Dolphins will return at least one player who regularly kneeled during the national anthem last season: Wide receiver Kenny Stills. Tight end Julius Thomas and wide receiver Michael Thomas also took a knee, but it is unclear whether either will be back with the team in 2018.
Ross, who sits on the board of directors for the Jackie Robinson Foundation, was in New York on Monday to accept the organization's ROBIE Lifetime Achievement Award. He is also the founder of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), a non-profit that describes its mission as "harnessing the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress."
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