Dolphins Owner Reportedly Bans Anthem Protests, Says Miami "Is Not a Great Sports Town" UPDATED

Update 11 a.m.: Ross has issued a statement claiming his comments about the National Anthem protests were "misconstrued" by the New York Daily News. "I've shared my opinion with all our players: I'm passionate about the cause of social justice, and I feel that kneeling is an ineffective tactic that alienates more people than it enlists," he says. Ross did not address his comments about Trump or Miami as a sports town, however.

Update 3 p.m.: New York Daily News has posted audio of Ross' interview. He clearly says, "All our players will be standing" after a reporter asks whether he'll allow players to kneel during the national anthem this year. Here's the audio:

As long as Miami had to stomach Jeffrey Loria, the spawn of Scrooge McDuck and Cruella de Vil, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross got a pass. Sure, his teams were just as putrid as the Marlins, but at least Ross didn't donate to Donald Trump and stood up for his players' right to protest police brutality during the National Anthem.

Now that Loria has peaced out, Ross apparently can't wait to jump into the former Fish owner's gold-plated, villainous shoes. In a jaw-dropping interview with the New York Daily News last night, the billionaire developer announced that he's banning National Anthem protests by Dolphins players, that he "likes" Trump, and that — just for good measure — he thinks Miami "is not a great sports town."

Hey, Stephen: Do us all a favor and stay in Manhattan. And sell your mediocre-ass team to someone who gives a damn about Miami and what we actually care about.

While players last season rallied around Colin Kaepernick and his protest against widespread police killings of young black men, Ross was the rare voice of reason in an owners' group dominated by jingoistic dinosaur Jerry Jones.

"I don't think it was any lack of respect," Ross said as a handful of Dolphins joined in by kneeling during the National Anthem. "These guys are making a conversation of something that's a very important topic in this country, and I'm 100 percent supportive of them."

So what has changed? Ross says that because Trump and his friends at Fox News successfully gaslit half the nation into believing the protests are actually about disrespecting the military, he too must go along with the gaslighting campaign. The misinformation from the White House was just too good!

"When that message changed, and everybody was interpreting it as that was the reason, then I was against kneeling," Ross told the Daily News.

Ross, by flip-flopping, is worse than Trump, who cynically insists Kaepernick "hates the troops" despite the very well-stated motivations and goals of his protests. But Ross actually gets it. He knows what the protest is really about, because he eloquently expressed the reasons himself last year. And he knows Trump and his allies are distorting that truth for political gain.

But Ross has now decided he should help the president mislead the public. Not that he blames Trump for stoking racial division by outright lying to demonize a peaceful protest movement!

"I like Donald," Ross told the Daily News. "I don't support everything that he says. Overall, I think he was trying to make a point, and his message became what kneeling was all about. From that standpoint, that is the way the public is interpreting it. So I think that's really incumbent upon us to adopt that. That's how, I think, the country now is interpreting the kneeling issue."

In other words, apologies to the Dolphins' sizable African-American fan base and its socially conscious players, but the president is just too good at bullshitting! As a fellow billionaire developer who has made more than a few bucks by spinning public opinion, game gotta recognize game.

Ross added that Trump — who spent the past week yelling at Alec Baldwin on Twitter and trying to spark a trade war because he's upset that so many of his staffers are quitting and getting indicted — "is concentrated on making the country better."

There's only one way to end an interview this out of touch with reality: Light a cigar with a flaming $100 bill and announce that Miami — the city where an average of 67,000 people schlepped to Hard Rock Stadium every weekend to watch his godawful football team vomit out another rancid season — "is not a good sports town."

Ross is blowing $150 million on a gigantic orange stairway to nowhere outside his latest New York megadevelopment because he thinks it looks kinda cool. He's worth $7.6 billion. He has no clue what an average Miamian sacrifices to drop a couple hundred bucks to watch his crappy franchise stumble to another loss to the Patriots.

Here's another protest movement Ross can consider: Fans should boycott the Dolphins until they get an owner who cares about winning, who respects this city, and who values his players' right to speak their minds. In the meantime, Ross can invite Trump to visit his beautiful new $150 million boondoggle in Manhattan.
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink

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