Three Miami Dolphins players went against a rule implemented by the team’s coach by kneeling in silent protest during the national anthem.
Safety Michael Thomas, wide receiver Kenny Stills and tight end Julius Thomas each took a knee during the anthem in Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders in Miami. Dolphins’ head coach Adam Gase instituted a team policy in October which told players to either stand for the anthem or stay in the tunnel leading to the field.
After a conversation between the players and Gase, the coach chose to respect their position and eased up on his previous policy.
The compromise comes just a day after the team announced that it was launching an annual fund for social justice programs. Michael Thomas hinted at the possible solution in October while discussing a meeting between the players, the players’ union, and team owners.
“I think it’s going to be a positive step in the right direction,” the safety told the Palm Beach Post. “It’s not the end-all solution, but it’s going to be a positive step in the right direction that we were able to actually do something.”
Colin Kaepernick, then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback, has been credited with starting the protests last year when he took a knee during the national anthem at a game in an effort to raise awareness for racial injustice.
Critics have expressed frustration with Kaepernick’s choice of protest, calling it disrespectful to the American military and the flag. President Donald Trump furthered the controversy in September when he implicitly called Kaepernick a “son of a bitch” and called on NFL fans to boycott games when kneeling occurred.
Team owner Stephen Ross, who was an early supporter of the protests, also expressed his wish that players would begin to stand last month.
“It’s a different dialogue today,” Ross said at his weekly tailgate. “Whenever you’re dealing with the flag, you’re dealing with something different. (Trump) has changed that whole paradigm of what protest is. I think it’s incumbent upon the players today, because of how the public is looking at it, is to stand and salute the flag.”