After four of his players added the Miami Dolphins to the national protest sparked by Colin Kaepernick, they were joined by an unlikely fifth man. Even in the emotionally crushing aftermath of the Dolphins’ season-opening loss to Seattle, the protest got its biggest recruit to date. Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross went up to safety Michael Thomas in the locker room and shook his hand.
“Let’s get ready to do something about this,” he said.
As pointed out by reports, Ross isn’t some disposable player. He didn’t have to back off from joining the protest because he’s a small-name reserve who feared for his job, as Thomas initially did. Ross’ stand will, no doubt, offend some paying customers, which puts him on the same footing as Thomas, running back Arian Foster, linebacker Jelani Jenkins and receiver Kenny Stills.
“It was pulling on my heart to stand up and not act like everything is OK, not act like I haven’t seen [problems],” Jenkins said. “I chose to get involved to see if I could create change. Raise awareness. I want it be clear that there’s no disrespect to the military or the police officers. It’s not about that. I love everyone. To me love is progress, hate is expensive.”
So what now? Where does it go? This is where Ross helps. He started a nonprofit organization a few years ago exactly with this premise. The mission statement of the Ross Initiative for Sports for Equality (RISE) is to, “advance race relations and drive social progress.”
“I don’t think there’s anyone in the organization, all the players included, that want to create any disrespect for this country, for this flag, for the soldiers or anything else. I think they know we’re 100 percent behind them,” Ross said. “I think today, what has been brought up, is a conversation that needs to be had. I think they’re doing [it], in their way. I applaud them.”
Seattle players stood together Sunday by all locking arms during the national anthem. They wanted to show a unified front in a call for social change. As receiver Doug Baldwin said, “There is a message that needs to be heard. You heard us, now listen to us.”