Miami Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills said Thursday he will consider whether to continue kneeling during the national anthem when the season gets closer.
The NFL recently implemented a new policy ordering players to stand for the national anthem if they are on the field. Players are allowed to remain in the locker room if they don’t want to stand for the anthem.
But Stills hasn’t decided if he will abide by the new rule, which could cause the team to be fined for his actions.
“We’ve got plenty of time,” Stills told reporters after a Dolphins’ offseason practice. “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 earned rave reviews for his community work in South Florida and was the team’s nominee for last season’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
But receiving much more attention has been the fact that he has taken a knee during the anthem for most of the teams’ games over the past two seasons.
When he began kneeling in 2016, Stills had the support of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. But Ross has since changed his tune and now wishes all his players would stand.
Complicating matters, of course, is President Donald Trump’s strong comments against kneeling players.
Stills hints that he is highly displeased with the new policy but didn’t criticize the president or the NFL. He said he is on the same page with Ross.
“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 is entering the second season of a four-year, $32 million contract.
Stills caught 58 passes for 847 yards and six touchdowns last season in his third year with Miami. He caught a career-best nine touchdown passes in 2016.
Stills established career highs of 63 receptions and 931 yards in his second NFL season in 2014 when he was a member of the New Orleans Saints.
Overall, Stills has 222 receptions for 3,585 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Stats aside, he sees standing up to social injustice as a big deal and wishes the NFL saw it as equally important.
“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.”
—Field Level Media