With the NFL commissioner, players and other league officials meeting next week over the anthem protests, it seems the league’s kneeling controversy may be coming to an end.
But for a collection of Dolphins players, their work is just beginning, even if the kneeling is over.
Since last September, when Kenny Stills and Michael Thomas were among the Dolphins players that began kneeling during the national anthem, the narrative around their pregame protest has not changed.
“I feel like our message is still being taken the wrong way,” says Stills from the team locker room on Wednesday.
So he, Thomas and other Dolphins are making sure that their message doesn’t get lost.
“It ain’t just all talk from our side,” adds Thomas. “It ain’t just lip service. We’re trying to make a real change.”
Tuesday, Dolphins players met with South Florida police officers and youth, fighting against the problem that this was all about in the first place..
“There are three pillars we want to work on: justice reform, education and community engagement. Once they saw we have a plan, they were behind us.”
And so is the NFL commissioner, who made a surprise visit to Miami Tuesday to talk to the players, and be a part of their outreach.
“It was great to see commissioner behind us to show that we’re all working together.”
“People say what’s most important is that we stop kneeling,” adds Stills. “You saw the commissioner announce a meeting with the players, and we’re all trying to move on from the protests.”
“The whole thing about kneeling has never been about disrespecting anyone,” adds Dolphins tight end Julius Thomas. “We can be a voice to the people who’s voices often go unheard.”
While the message may have been lost in the anthem protests, these dolphins say they weren’t in vain – because of the non-gameday work that has begun.
Stills spends almost every Tuesday during the season working in the community, and invites many of his teammates to come with him.
Thomas says, that a major announcement is coming soon, about the next phase of community outreach involving the entire NFL.