PHILADELPHIA — Just because Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills will stand this season for the pre-game playing of the national anthem doesn’t mean he’s not paying attention to those around the league who are protesting.
That’s why he expressed optimism and support for Cleveland Browns players who kneeled Monday night.
“It’s encouraging to see other people getting involved,” Stills said Tuesday after a joint practice with the Philadelphia Eagles.
More: 49ers assistant becomes first openly LGBT NFL coach
More: Why Trump got a Super Bowl ring from Patriots
More: SIGN UP!: NFL newsletter delivers our best coverage
“I feel like it’s pretty alarming that we have a league that’s majority African-American, and we didn’t have many guys that were getting involved. So I was pretty excited and encouraged by that. People are saying that they were praying for our country; I support that as well. I’m encouraged to see people getting involved and hope that they start taking the action and get involved in their community.”
Stills tweeted a message of support Monday after 12 Browns kneeled in a huddle during the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner before their preseason game against the New York Giants. Five other Cleveland players stood by their kneeling teammates and placed hands on their shoulders.
Stills has been the recipient of the Nat Moore Community Service award, awarded by the Dolphins to the player who is most active in the South Florida community. Also, in conjunction with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, an organization founded by franchise owner Stephen Ross, Stills helped plan a town hall meeting that players, coaches, police and civilians attended. From that meeting, the idea was formed for Stills to join two teammates on a ridealong with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office to learn about policing techniques and policy.
Stills kneeled during the national anthem last season, following in the footsteps of Colin Kaepernick after he began protesting social injustice and police brutality. But this year, Stills has decided to end his protest.
“I felt people were being distracted by the kneeling and not seeing the work that we were doing, and that’s what it’s all about,” Stills said when asked why his approach has changed.
“The narrative was going the wrong way, and I just wanted to get it going back the right way. And I think the guys that are kneeling, as long as they start getting themselves involved in the community and start getting to work, then people can’t really have anything negative to say about that.”