The death threats have returned for Miami Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills in the wake of his public questioning of team owner Stephen Ross, who is hosting a fundraiser for President Donald Trump in the Hamptons on Friday.
Stills was publicly critical of Ross, who has claimed to be a champion of equality but is holding the event — entry price: up to $250,000 per person — for Trump, whose policies frequently take a whack at equality.
‘Five to 10’ threats
On Thursday night, after the Dolphins’ preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons, Stills addressed the situation with media. He stood firm in his criticism of Ross.
“If you’re going to associate with bad people, then people are going to know about it,” Stills said, via the Miami Herald. “I think there’s ways you can support candidates without it being so public and without it being at your personal, private residence. I put it out there so everybody could see it.”
Stills said he’s received “five to 10” death threats on social media in recent days.
But they’re not the first he’s received. Stills also got death threats when he made the decision to follow Colin Kaepernick and kneel during the playing of the national anthem to protest racial injustice. Stills has a long record of work in the Miami community, including with police departments.
“It is what it is,” Stills said of having his life threatened for using his First Amendment rights as an American citizen. “I’ll be OK.”
‘It’s about the human being’
Not long after news came on Wednesday that Ross was hosting the fundraiser, Stills tweeted a screen grab from the RISE (Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality) website and its mission statement, which says in part that it is working “to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve racial relations.”
“You can’t have a non-profit with this mission statement then open your doors to Trump,” Stills wrote.
Stills said he doesn’t want to be released or traded, though he acknowledged that could happen, and understands the frustrations of Equinox and SoulCycle clients, other companies Ross owns, who are boycotting the fitness centers.
But he needs to understand how Ross can both champion racial reconciliation and support a man Stills says is “against all the things that [Ross is] trying to work towards.”
Stills added: “It’s never been about politics. It’s more just about the human being. I know some people think that you don’t say those types of things to your boss, but for me, it’s just a human being. If you say you’re going to be about something, let’s be about it.”
Brian Flores wishes Stills had addressed Ross privately
Dolphins’ rookie head coach Brian Flores, who has already dealt with a litany of issues in the few months he’s been with Miami, seemed bothered by the fact that Stills didn’t speak with Ross privately before going public with his feelings.
“The one thing I said to Kenny was that I understand where Kenny is coming from. He wants to be a voice,” Flores said. “I talked to him about that a couple of weeks ago. I understand him wanting to be a voice for people who don’t have a voice. I respect that. My conversation with Kenny, I asked him why he didn’t talk to the owner? Why didn’t he talk to Steve first before putting something out?
“And I think that’s something we have to do more of. There has to be more communication, more conversation, more ... just more communication if we really want to make change. I wish he would have done that. I told him that. But, yeah, I talked to Kenny.”
Stills said, “Maybe I shouldn’t have done it on social media, on Twitter, but I did.”
The 27-year-old Stills, a New Orleans Saints draft pick in 2013 who has been with the Dolphins since 2015, said he was disappointed but not surprised to learn of Ross’ decision to raise money for Trump. Over the last year, he’s distanced himself from the RISE Initiative, “just based off of a gut feeling that I’ve had.”
He maintained that he believed Ross is “trying” to be an ally in the fight for social justice, “but I don’t believe that you can play both sides.”
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