The Miami Dolphins gave out team awards this week, and anthem-kneeling wide receiver Kenny Stills took home their community service award.
This is the third year in a row Stills won the Nat Moore Community Service Award, named after a former Dolphins receiver known for his charity work. Stills and punter Brandon Fields (2011-13) are the only players in Dolphins history to win the award three years in a row.
And ironic to some, Stills has been protesting during the national anthem during the three years he’s won the award.
But clearly the Dolphins feel one has nothing to do with the other.
Stills has received the award the last three years for his tireless charitable work in the South Florida community. NFL players are generally off from football on Tuesdays in-season, and Stills usually spends that day doing charity work. He works with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Miami, and, on September 11, 2018, he visited VA hospitals in Miami and West Palm Beach to honor the military.
However, while he visits VA hospitals with regularity, he continues to kneel during the national anthem. A practice some consider disrespectful to the military and police.
Stills, doesn’t see it that way.
“This has never been against the military or the flag or the police,” Stills explained.
Florida senator Marco Rubio, a long-time Dolphins fan, recently tipped his hat to Stills charitable work and defended his right to protest.
“You don’t have to agree with how or why he has chosen to exercise the 1st Amendment before every game to acknowledge the hours he gives voluntarily, on his day off, to serve his fellow Americans,” Rubio said.
Stills kneels during the anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality, following the lead of former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick, who started the anthem kneeling movement in the summer of 2016.
“2016 was also the year when I took my first major leaps into politics,” Stills wrote on his own website. “Prior to that, I was aware of political situations, but not deeply involved. Throughout the spring/summer of 2016, I witnessed the seemingly endless string of police brutality captured on video and spread through social media.
“This was when I decided to follow with Colin Kaepernick in his protest. We were not protesting the national anthem. We were actively working to create a conversation regarding police brutality and the race issues that plague this country.”
Even after he kneeled during the 2016 season, the Dolphins gave the speedy receiver a new 4-year deal for $32 million with $19.6 million guaranteed in 2017.
It’s possible this deal, and Stills continued kneeling during the anthem, has turned off some of the Dolphins’ fans base, including some police organizations, one which called for a Dolphins ticket boycott this season.
The executive who gave Stills that contract, Dolphins’ VP Mike Tannenbaum, is about to lose his job according to the Miami Herald.
It’s unclear if Stills will be back with the Dolphins next season since he didn’t have much of an impact on the field this year
But once again, he’s been honored for his charitable work off the field.