March 6 (UPI) — Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross says kneeling during the national anthem is an “ineffective tactic,” but he has no intention of forcing players to stand.
The comments came after he told the New York Daily News on Monday that Dolphins players would be standing during the anthem.
“All of our players will be standing,” Ross told the Daily News while being honored by the Jackie Robinson Foundation with the ROBIE Lifetime Achievement Award at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.
“Initially, I totally supported the players in what they were doing,” Ross told the Daily News. “It’s America and people should be able to really speak about their choices.”
“When that message changed, and everybody was interpreting it as that was the reason, then I was against kneeling. 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 issued a statement on Tuesday, saying his comments were “misconstrued.”
“I have no intention of forcing our players to stand during the anthem and I regret that my comments have been misconstrued,” Ross said. “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.”
Dolphins players Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas and Julius Thomas knelt during the anthem all season long. Stills received a four-year, $32 million contract in March 2017, while Michael Thomas is set to hit free agency. Julius Thomas has one year remaining on his contract, but isn’t expected to be with the Dolphins next season.