The Dolphins didn't score a single point in the first 59 minutes 54 seconds on the field last week, so the noteworthiest action actually came before the game, when a handful of Fins joined players throughout the league in taking a knee during the National Anthem. The gesture was meant as a silent protest of racial injustices in the United States, as well as a response to the comments Donald Trump made while speaking at a rally in Alabama in which he referred to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and any other player who takes a knee during the Anthem "sons of a bitches."
While some players knelt, the majority of the Dolphins teammates, coaches, staff, and owner Stephen Ross did not. Instead, they chose to stand with their arms locked to show a sign of solidarity with those who did. Here's what Ross said about the protesters: "I know our players who kneeled for the Anthem, and these are smart young men of character who want to make our world a better place for everyone."
So clearly, locking arms was meant to show support for those who kneeled. The idea was to be an ally without taking the spotlight away from those making the statement.
Unfortunately, Trump and his allies quickly subverted that sentiment and made it into something else entirely. By the time Monday Night Football rolled around, the entire Dallas Cowboys team — led by Trump donor Jerry Jones — took a knee before the Anthem and then locked arms in unison as the song played.
Trump claimed victory, of course, because the move was a victory for a guy who stands against everything for which Kaepernick is protesting.
Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
The booing at the NFL football game last night, when the entire Dallas team dropped to its knees, was loudest I have ever heard. Great anger— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
But while Dallas dropped to its knees as a team, they all stood up for our National Anthem. Big progress being made-we all love our country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
It's no wonder that after Trump's take, many others misinterpreted the Fins' locked arms as a rebuke of Kaepernick and those who kneeled with him — the precise opposite of what Ross and the Fins intended.
Spoke to Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys yesterday. Jerry is a winner who knows how to get things done. Players will stand for Country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2017
That's why this week, on an international stage in London, and as the only game in that time slot this Sunday, the Dolphins players and staff must make it abundantly clear that last week was no one-off message. This week, the Fins have a chance to make an even bigger statement than the
Everyone should kneel — including Ross — during the National Anthem. They need to do so because the conversation about racial inequality and injustice must continue beyond one week where President Twitter wanted to yell about it. They need to kneel, not because they're protesting the Anthem or the flag — if you think that's what these players are against, think harder and read up on Kaepernick's statements about the military. They need to kneel because it's been apparent this week that people like Trump deliberately shaded the point of Kaepernick's and his allies' protests.
The Miami Dolphins have a stage in front of the world to make sure that doesn't happen again.