SEATTLE -- Hours after four Miami Dolphins players decided to drop to one knee in protest during the national anthem on Sunday, I asked club owner Stephen Ross what he would tell fans not pleased with such political commentary from players they otherwise root for.
Said another way, I asked Ross what he'd tell his season ticket holders.
“I don’t think there’s anybody in the organization – all the players included – that want to show any disrespect for this country, for the flag, for the soldiers or anything else. I think they all know (that) as an organization, we’re totally 100 percent behind them. I think today, what has been brought up is a conversation that needs to be had, and I think they’re doing it in their way, and I applaud them. That’s what it’s all about."
Players Arian Foster, Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas and Jelani Jenkins all echoed those sentiments. They were protesting asking you not to hate them for it.
"I think there is a lot of negativity surrounding this decision, and we are not looking to hurt anyone's feelings, we're not looking to disrespect anyone, that's why we chose to put our hands over our heart, as well. We also stood during President Obama's speech which honored the 9-11 victims. I know there's going to be a lot of negativity around that. Arian (Foster) is going to share the message about that, and we hope that people are going to understand where we're coming from."
And that's all well and good, but people disagreeing with these players are not bringing "negativity." They are bringing their opinion as well and, like the players, they have a right to their opinions.
Those people who disagree run the gamut from the famous to the anonymous. Super model Kate Upton took to Twitter and made it clear to her two million followers she was not a fan of the Dolphins' protest. She also went on her Instagram account and vehemently disagreed with the Dolphins actions on the 15th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.
In my opinion, the national anthem is a symbolic song about our country. It represents honoring the many brave men and women who sacrifice and have sacrificed their lives each and every single day to protect our freedom. Sitting or kneeling down during the national anthem is a disgrace to those people who have served and currently serve our country. Sitting down during the national anthem on September 11th is even more horrific. Protest all you want and use social media all you want. However, during the nearly two minutes when that song is playing, I believe everyone should put their hands on their heart and be proud of our country for we are all truly blessed. Recent history has shown that it is a place where anyone no matter what race or gender has the potential to become President of the United States. We live in the most special place in the world and should be thankful. After the song is over, I would encourage everyone to please use the podium they have, stand up for their beliefs, and make America a better place. The rebuilding of battery park and the freedom tower demonstrates that amazing things can be done in this country when we work together towards a common goal. It is a shame how quickly we have forgotten this as a society. Today we are more divided then ever before. I could never imagine multiple people sitting down during the national anthem on the September 11th anniversary. The lessons of 911 should teach us that if we come together, the world can be a better and more peaceful place #neverforget.
And while many times citizens that don't make millions and aren't in front of media cameras or microphones have to counter-protest, so to speak, in a vacuum, that doesn't happen today.
A dozen or so Dolphins fans, including several season ticket members, wrote to me Sunday to voice frustration and dissatisfaction about the Miami protest. Some are upset about the player protests and don't know what steps to take next. Some have decided to stop rooting for the Dolphins.
Some like Greg Gully are making their feelings known to Dolphins ownership. This is a letter from Gully to Ross and his season ticket customer service representative:
"Dear Mr. Ross,
"I am a season ticket holder for the Miami Dolphins. A proud Dolfan since 1968. Born and raised in NYC and recently moved to Southwest Florida. What you need to know is that I was a First Responder on 9-11-01 at WTC site.
"I understand that cancelling my dream season tickets will not be felt by you or the team but how can I in good conscience support a team or league that allows any one person to disrespect the memory of the heroes we lost on 9-11-01? This was my 1st season as a holder and next season I was going to upgrade to the 72 Club seats.
"You should understand how angry and embarrassed I was to witness Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, Jelani Jenkins and Kenny Stills kneel during the National Anthem on the 15th anniversary of 9-11-01. 4 players, no less, that almost were not even on our team this season. I understand it is their right to not stand for the anthem but it is also my right to not contribute my hard earned money to pay their salaries."
This is a difficult situation, friends.
I think you know my opinion on protesting on 9-11.
I don't view my opinion as negativity. I simply believe these four Dolphins players made a bad mistake.