Stephen Ross remains resolute.’ data-reactid=”14″>Stephen Ross remains resolute.
Stills recently drew criticism and praise for calling out his employer on Twitter for hosting a fundraiser at his home in The Hamptons for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign. Tickets for Ross’ Long Island fundraiser reportedly ranged from $100,000 for a photo opportunity and lunch to a $250,000 package, which included a private roundtable discussion with the president. (According to Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Trump raised $12 million thanks to Ross’ fundraiser and another high-priced Hamptons event.)
With one tweet, Stills highlighted the hypocrisy of Ross’ two agendas: eradicating racial discrimination and improving race relations through his nonprofit the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) while simultaneously funding an agent of racial and ethnic division in America.
Though politics and sports have historically been intertwined, the convergence of these two arenas reached a fever pitch in recent years with NFL players and other athletes kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a form of peaceful protest against systematic racism, police brutality and social injustice. Two years ago, Trump called the kneeling NFL players “sons of bitches” and said if they were unwilling to stand for the national anthem they “shouldn’t be in the country.”
As well-intentioned as some NFL owners might be, they are billionaires and business people at their core, and oftentimes a majority have been guided by self-interests that protect their financial bottom line.
Dolphins franchise.’ data-reactid=”57″>Stills and Ross remain rooted in their fundamental beliefs, while Flores found himself caught between a rock and a hard place in his first year on the job of rebuilding a downtrodden Dolphins franchise.
The controversy also highlighted the optics of a minority head coach caught in the middle of a player and owner on opposite ends of a polarizing issue. Flores — one of only four head coach of color among 32 teams — said last week that he understood and respected Stills’ mission and desire to use his platform to effect change, but he also felt the receiver should have spoken to Ross privately “before putting something out there.” The coach added: “That’s something we have to do more of, more communication, more conversation, if we want to make change. I wish he would have done that. I told him that.”
Asked about Flores’ comments, Stills replied: “What I’ll say about Coach Flores is that, I think from a professional matter, he’s correct. It’s like, hey, the best way to handle that would have been to reach out and talk to him personally. But he also didn’t understand, being that Coach Flores just got here, the relationship and all of the other conversations that Ross and I have had.”
Following the Dolphins’ preseason win over Atlanta, Stills disclosed that a “gut feel” led him to step away from his involvement with the RISE foundation. On Tuesday, he reiterated there’s no “beef” between he and Ross.
The receiver also made it clear that his decision to reach out to Ross wasn’t about clearing the air or apologizing.
“I think it’s just the right thing to do,” Stills said, before boarding the team bus. “To have a conversation and just let each other know. ‘Cause I think some people might take it the wrong way, like, I don’t want to play for the Dolphins anymore. And I do.”