MIAMI GARDENS — Dolphins defensive back Michael Thomas has not only been a special teams ace from the onset of his tenure in Miami, he’s also been a fixture in the community giving his time and resources to enhance the lives of others. Sensing the need to raise awareness to racial inequality and injustice, Thomas began kneeling during the national anthem in an effort to bring the plight of many minorities to light.
Thomas knelt during the national anthem for the entire 2016 season and also took a knee in London against the New Orleans Saints.
Prior to Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross expressed his desire to see players stand for the national anthem.
“I think it’s incumbent upon players today if that’s how the public is looking at it, is to stand and salute the flag, Ross said.”
Thomas subsequently was conspicuously absent from the sideline during the playing of the national anthem, as was Kenny Stills and Julius Thomas. All three players were in the locker room and did not run onto the field until the conclusion of the national anthem due to a new policy enacted during the week leading up Sunday’s game.
Following the Dolphins 16-10 victory over the Tennessee Titans, coach Adam Gase confirmed that players must stand for the national anthem, and players who decide not to stand, must remain in the locker room. Gase engaged in active management as opposed to passive management when suggesting that the team mandate to stand for the national anthem was his idea, but it is clear that the orders did not emanate from the head coach.
“I’m not going to say they [the NFL] is stopping [players from protesting during the national anthem], but we’re coming up with a solution, “Thomas said. “Once everybody started demonstrating, it was all about because we wanted to provide more resources to our communities. We wanted to bring awareness to inequalities and injustice. So now, I think the league has heard us, they’ve heard the cries of their players, and they’re willing to work with us. Very soon in the near future, that’s going to happen.”
In Thomas’ eyes, kneeling has served its purpose. He’s helped raise awareness to a cause that is near and dear to his heart, and he is gaining the resources necessary to bring about the changes he’d like to see. As a result of the NFL’s willingness to work with him and other activists across the league, Thomas believes kneeling during the national anthem will come to an end.
“We are very confident . . . working with the league, working with the owners, there’s going to come a time where . . . everybody’s going to stop demonstrating. We’re actually going to do work in the communities together.
“Everybody who sees what’s going to come out of it will see that it was never about actually protesting the flag, that it wasn’t about disrespecting our military, but it was about trying to bring light to the issues that are going on in our communities. … The league heard us, and it’s going to be good.”