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Ryan Tannehill Should Stand Up for Teammates Who Kneel in Protest

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Photo by George Martinez

Ryan Tannehill is the face of the Miami Dolphins, which says a lot seeing as he hasn't played a down of football since 2016. With Jarvis Landry, Mike Pouncey, and Ndamukong Suh gone from the team, Tannehill is not only the most recognizable name on the Dolphins roster but also as quarterback is the de facto leader of their locker room. That's how it goes when you play the most important position in sports on a team with few stars or veteran mainstays.

It's also why Tannehill has a duty to be a stronger voice about how the team interprets and enforces the NFL's new  “Proper Anthem Conduct" policy, which allows clubs to decide whether players can continue to kneel in protest during the National Anthem. As of last week, the league policy stated players could be fined and suspended for four games with or without pay for sitting or kneeling in protest of racial injustice. In comparison, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston has been recently suspended three games for drunkenly groping his Uber driver's vagina.

Yeah. The NFL certainly has its priorities straight, right?

Tannehill is the face and leader of the team, so he should stand with his teammates on this issue and fight for their right to silently protest or express themselves in a civil and appropriate manner during the anthem.

Tannehill is robotic. He's the worst quote on the team. He provides nothing in the way of views on anything but football, and even those takes are few and far between. That's fine, but the leader of an NFL team has to choose those moments where standing up and being the collective voice of his teammates is not only necessary but can bring a team together on the field.

Now is the time for Tannehill to prove he not only supports his teammates but will protect them, even if it means throwing himself under the bus with them in the name of something bigger than a 17-13 win over the Buffalo Bills in September. Seven seasons into his career, Tannehill has the clout and enough financial and job security to stand up to the NFL and Stephen Ross on this issue, even if it isn't his battle.

Tannehill doesn't have to pick sides, but he also must not stay quiet. If there has been this much public backlash before any Dolphins player has faced a suspension, imagine the chaos and Good Morning America segments once Kenny Stills is suspended four games without pay simply for kneeling in protest of police brutality.

Tannehill should side with his teammates on this one. Endorsements or irrational ring-wing fans be damned. He's the face of a team that is overwhelmingly dominated by African-American employees. If he wants to lead them, he should start with the biggest issue in sports.

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