Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told the New York Daily News on Tuesday that his players "will all be standing" during national anthems this coming season.
After indicating that he initially supported his players who knelt to protest social injustice and police brutality in a form of peaceful activism started by former San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 season, Ross is now echoing president Donald Trump in saying it sends the wrong message, particularly to military members.
"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."
There have been rumblings that the league will mandate all players from both teams to remain in the locker room during the national anthem this season, after Trump's divisive tweets last September escalated the controversy.
Meantime, Ross is taking coach Adam Gase's rule — that players must stand or protest in the locker room — a step further. How players — including free-agent safety and original member of the Players Coalition Michael Thomas — will respond is unknown. It's worth noting Thomas backed out of the coalition, founded by Philadelphia Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins, last year.
Fellow Dolphins teammates WR Kenny Stills and TE Julius Thomas joined Thomas in protesting during the anthem last season. Thomas isn't long for the club, but Stills is only entering Year Two of a four-year, $32 million contract.
A report from the Houston Chronicle on Monday indicated the Houston Texans won't sign free agents who participated in protests last season. The Texans denied the report, but Ross has made it clear that his own formerly protesting players won't be doing so any longer. Whether the directive is met by resistance and players potentially could lose their jobs as a result isn't known.