Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross said Tuesday he would not make players stand during the national anthem, refuting a report out of New York on Monday night.
“I have no intention of forcing our players to stand during the anthem and I regret that my comments have been misconstrued,’’ Ross said in a statement to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I’ve shared my opinion with all our players: I’m passionate about the cause of social justice and I feel that kneeling is an ineffective tactic that alienates more people than it enlists.
“I know our players care about the military and law enforcement too because I’ve seen the same players who are fighting for social justice engaging positively with law enforcement and the military. I care passionately that the message of social justice resonates far and wide and I will continue to support and fund efforts for those who fight for equality for all.”
Ross supported four Dolphins players who knelt during the 2016 season opener to protest racial injustice. Last season, he publicly supported three players that knelt in protest after President Donald Trump blasted NFL players who took a knee during the anthem as unpatriotic.
Ross’s comments refute a New York Daily News report on Monday that he said all players would be forced to stand during the anthem next season.
Ross has consistently been an advocate for social change, and put $7 million of his own money behind the movement by funding the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), which is a non-profit dedicated towards using sports to “bring people together to promote understanding, respect and equality.”
Through public awareness campaigns and educational programming, RISE aims to improve race relations, and the Dolphins have worked with protesting players to create positive change in the South Florida community by hosting events geared towards social activism. In recent weeks, players and law officials have met with youth in team-sponsored events.
Last season, when Trump blasted players for kneeling during the anthem, Ross issued a statement regarding the situation.
“Our country needs unifying leadership right now, not more divisiveness,” Ross said then. “We need to seek to understand each other and have civil discourse instead of condemnation and sound bites. I know our players who kneeled for the anthem and these are smart young men of character who want to make our world a better place for everyone.
“They wanted to start a conversation and are making a difference in our community, including working with law enforcement to bring people together. We all can benefit from learning, listening and respecting each other. Sports is a common denominator in our world. We all have the responsibility to use this platform to promote understanding, respect and equality.”