Anthem-Kneeler Kenny Stills Traded, Now Playing for Houston in Red State Texas

Kenny Stills
AP Photo/Steven Senne

On August 7, wide receiver and anthem protester Kenny Stills criticized his then-boss, Miami Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross, for hosting a fundraiser in honor of President Donald J. Trump.

And now he is a former Dolphin, traded to the Houston Texans on Sunday.

After the Washington Post reported in early August that Ross was to host a Trump fundraiser in The Hampton’s, Stills criticized the man who signed his paychecks for running a non-profit promoting racial equality (RISE), and also supporting the President.

“You can’t have a non-profit with this mission statement then open your doors to Trump,” Stills tweeted.

Stills, who kneels during the Star-Spangled Banner before NFL games to protest what he perceives as racial injustice, will now be working in right-leaning Texas, where his anthem protests might not be popular.

Stills has not stated whether he plans to continue his anthem protests in Houston, but if he does, how will Texans coach Bill O’Brien feel about that?

“Relative to any social justice initiatives, you guys know my history with the Texans,” O’Brien said. “I love the players. I have the players’ backs. We communicate about those things.”

Long-time Texans Owner Robert McNair, who passed away last November, was very much against the anthem protests started in the summer of 2016 by former San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick.

McNair made news in October of 2017 when ESPN reported that during a private NFL meeting on how to handle the anthem protests, he said, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison.”

McNair took a lot of heat for this quote that some considered insensitive, and most Texans players kneeled during the anthem in the following game. Former Texans left tackle Duane Brown blasted his boss to the media.

“I think the comments were disrespectful, I think it was ignorant, I think it was embarrassing,” Brown said. “I think it angered a lot of players, including myself. We put our bodies and minds every time we step on the field. To use an analogy of inmates in a prison, I would say they’re disrespectful.”

Brown added, “This is how you view us. This is, ‘you get out of line you’re an inmate. We can’t let you get out of line. We can’t let you speak for yourself. We can’t let you have your own beliefs.’ That’s what it feels like. So it’s a bad situation.”

A few days after Brown ripped the owner, he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks on October 30, 2017.

Now the Texans are run by the late owner’s son, Cal McNair, so it might surprise some that he checked off on trading for an anthem protester.

But the Texans are in win-now mode, and O’Brien, who runs the Texans’ football operation, feels trading for the speedy Stills, along with Dolphins left tackle Laremy Tunsil, acquired in the same deal, can help them do that.

“We can’t control what the outside world thinks,” O’Brien said. “We try to do the best we can to make the best decisions possible to help us win. We understand that how much we win will determine our future.”

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