Kneeling for the national anthem last season was a strong storyline at the beginning of the year, especially on Sept. 11. Many fans were already sour on the idea of kneeling while the anthem played, and kneeling on Sept. 11 just angered them more.
The Dolphins stood out on that day because four players participated in the act: Jelani Jenkins, Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, and Kenny Stills. Thomas spoke with the Palm Beach Post about what went into the decision, and how his owner, Stephen Ross, supported the players.
“I saw Mr. Ross come in the locker room. I’m going up to him, trying to explain to him in a way, letting him know, like, ‘Look, we’re thinking about doing this, thinking about taking a knee,' " Thomas said. "And for him to stop me and say, ‘Look, Mike, whatever y’all choose to do today, I’ve got y’all’s back 100 percent’ — that’s a testament to what type of person he is, how he truly feels about equality for all, and the efforts he’s made with the RISE program. It’s great to have the owner of the Dolphins have that perspective."
RISE is Ross'nonprofitorganization which stands forRoss Initiative in Sports for Equality. Per its website, RISE is "dedicated to harnessing the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress."
The fact Ross supported them isn't a surprise. The team owner even said so himself that day following the game.
"I don't think there was any lack of respect," Ross said in September. "Everyone in this team and whole organization respects the flag and what it stands for. These guys are making a conversation about something that's very important topic in this country. I'm 100 percent in support of them."
Thomas' quotes just emphasize how much the players respect and appreciate Ross. The Dolphins owner was also praised recently for being the lone vote against the Raiders' move to Las Vegas.