Only a short time before news emerged that President Trump might have pulled off an enormous diplomatic coup, by potentially getting the North Koreans to denuclearize. News of a much smaller, yet not altogether insignificant triumph for Trump diplomacy emerged in the NFL.
What great victory was this? The victory appears to be Trump’s ability to convert an NFL owner — who once proudly supported the anthem protests — with a single tweet.
Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross delivered a strong message on Monday, informing all that when the anthem plays, his players will be on their feet.
While in New York to accept the ROBIE Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jackie Robinson Foundation, Ross told the Daily News, “All of our players will be standing.”
Ross, who initially supported the players protest efforts, described his journey from accepting the protests to wanting them to end.
“Initially, I totally supported the players in what they were doing. It’s America and people should be able to really speak about their choices.”
However, Ross eventually changed his mind. What caused him to change his mind? In no small part, Ross attributes the change to a tweet from President Trump.
In September, Trump tweeted: “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
Trump’s changing of the narrative seemed to change Ross’ mind about the public’s perception of the protests.
“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.”
According to the Daily News, “Ross said he’s still in communication with Trump – the two men’s football ties stretch all the way back to the USFL days before that football league folded – and Ross said he thinks the president ‘is concentrated on making the country better.'”
UPDATE: In a statement to the Sun-Sentinel, Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross has sought to clarify his remarks to the Daily News.
Ross said, “I have no intention of forcing our players to stand during the anthem.”
Ross continued, “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.”
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn