Dolphins' Stephen Ross: Anthem punishment was a 'placeholder', no final decision made

Shalise Manza Young
Yahoo Sports Columnist

After the furor that erupted on Thursday evening when the Associated Press reported that the Miami Dolphins planned on fining or possibly suspending players who kneel on the sideline during the playing of the national anthem, the organization has been working to get the word out that it’s not exactly the case.

‘We haven’t made a decision’

After putting out word Thursday night, first through former Dolphins beat writer and current ESPN NFL reporter Jeff Darlington that the protesting punishment wasn’t a firm team rule but rather part of a discipline schedule it must submit to the league before the start of training camp, the Dolphins have reiterated that message with a Friday statement attributed to team owner Stephen Ross.

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross released a statement attempting to clarify a report that his team would suspend players who protest this season. (AP)

“We were asked to submit a form to the NFL on our overall discipline policy prior to the start of the rookie report date. The one line sentence related to the national anthem was a placeholder and we haven’t made a decision on what we would do, if anything, at that point,” the statement reads. “I’m pleased that the NFL and the NFLPA are taking a pause to figure out a resolution on this issue.

“I am passionate about social justice, and through the Miami Dolphins and creation of RISE [Ross Initiative for Sports Equality], will continue to use the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress.”

Call us crazy, but if Ross is so committed to social justice, why even float the idea that he’d suspend players for kneeling during the anthem, a practice which Colin Kaepernick began specifically in response to the police killings of two unarmed black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, on consecutive days in 2016 and for which no one was held legally responsible?

Putting it on pause

Late Thursday night, after the social media firestorm from the AP story on the Dolphins possibly suspending players, the NFL and NFL Players Association announced that the league won’t be enforcing the half-baked rule the NFL came up with during meetings in May, without player input. The rule called for players who wanted to protest to remain in the locker room, and allowed for teams to be fined if any players did protest on-field during the anthem.

The two sides will continue discussions on a resolution.

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