The Miami Dolphins’ Stephen Ross is no longer a member of the NFL’s Working Group Committee, an organization consisting of players and team owners focused on social justice issues.
The circumstances of his departure depend on which side is talking about it.
Retired Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long, an outspoken social justice advocate and member of the Players Coalition, told Sports Illustrated on Tuesday that the Dolphins owner stepped down under pressure from players after he held a fundraiser for President Donald Trump.
Long: ‘We got Stephen Ross’ to leave
The issue came up in the context of Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid criticizing the Players Coalition for being ineffective.
"The one thing I really disagree with Eric on is that the coalition hasn't done anything," Long said. "The coalition is autonomous. We don't work for the owners. In fact, we just got Stephen Ross to agree to be off of our working group. We can make decisions like that.”
Long reiterated his stance on Twitter, addressing social media critics chiding him for not wanting to work with a politically conservative owner.
In short, he argued that the conflict of an owner financially supporting a president who actively campaigned against players involved in social justice protests by imploring owners to “get that son of a bitch off the field” did not align with the group’s goals.
Just read every mention here and they’re all pretty shortsighted. We’ve worked w a number of owners who lean conservative and have even supported trump in the past. However (and I have no idea why I’m explaining this because you’ll never concede the point).....— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) August 20, 2019
He held a fundraiser for a guy who called protesting players “sons of bitches” + campaigned for them to lose jobs. The working group is directly involved. You can see how that’s a conflict of interest that transcends politics. I respect SR’s work w RISE. Don’t get it? Can’t help.— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) August 20, 2019
Dolphins: Ross ‘made the decision’
The Dolphins acknowledged to the Miami Herald that Ross left the group without addressing whether he was pressured to do so.
“Stephen made the decision last week and informed the NFL and members of the working committee that he was going to step aside from the group and continue to focus his efforts on RISE,” a team spokesperson told the Herald.
RISE is the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality that describes itself as “a national nonprofit that educates and empowers the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve race relations.”
Backlash over Ross’ Trump support
Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills has publicly criticized Ross for associating himself with Trump in apparent conflict with RISE’s mission statement.
Ross defended raising funds for Trump, justifying the decision as an act to “engage directly and support things I deeply care about” as an “active participant in the democratic process.”
Ross’ case apparently wasn’t enough to compel players aware that the man Ross was raising funds for once argued that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the 2017 Charlottesville conflict involving white supremacists and Neo-Nazis.
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