There is the rap lyric, “it was all good just a week ago.” Literally.
All of sudden President Donald Trump, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, Dolphins’ wide receiver Kenny Stills, rapper Jay-Z and Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores became connected in a month of political plus sports news.
The snowball began when news broke that the billionaire and Republican donor Ross would hold a Hamptons fundraiser for President Trump.
Despite public protests against the planned fundraiser for President Trump’s re-election campaign, billionaire Ross and real estate developer Joe Farrell hosted a crowd of 500 in the Hamptons.
During the fundraiser at a lavish estate in the famous New York vacation destination on Long Island, Trump reportedly made light of the backlash.
“Steve Ross got into a little bit of trouble this week, I said, ‘Steve, welcome to the world of politics!” Trump told the crowd, according to the New York Post.
Mr. Stills come on down. Stills believed that Ross’ event in the Hamptons, which raised $12 million, contradicted the mission statement of Ross’ nonprofit, Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE). Stills criticized the owner on social media.
Stills, who continues to kneel during the national anthem to raise awareness of police brutality and social injustice, said he is no longer involved with RISE because of “everything that’s taken place from the time of the first protest to now.”
Stills said he and Ross are moving past the wide receiver’s criticism of Ross for his involvement in the high priced fundraiser for President Trump.
“We agreed to disagree, and that was it,” Stills said, via the Palm Beach Post.
As the noise quieted down in South Florida, the National Football League announced they entered into a long-term partnership with Roc Nation as the league’s official Live Music Entertainment Strategists. The partnership will begin as the NFL’s 100th season kicks off and will serve as a commitment from Roc Nation and the NFL to nurture and strengthen community through music and the NFL’s Inspire Change initiative.
A core component of the partnership will be to amplify the Inspire Change platform priority areas identified by NFL Players, including Education and Economic Advancement, Improving Police-Community Relations, and Criminal Justice Reform.
“With its global reach, the National Football League has the platform and opportunity to inspire change across the country,” said Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter. “Roc Nation has shown that entertainment and enacting change are not mutually exclusive ideas – instead, we unify them. This partnership is an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America.”
The viral question after the announcement, “was Colin Kaepernick
part of the discussion in the partnership?” The consensus answer was no.
Stills shared he was willing to take a wait-and-see approach with Jay-Z’s partnership with the NFL but admitted the deal didn’t sit right with him.
In the process of moving on, the drama continued to unfold. One day after Stills called out the NFL’s partnership with Roc Nation Flores loaded up the practice playlist with a bunch of Jay-Z’s songs. This appeared to be a surprising move from Flores. Moreover raising questions on the head coach and player not seeing eye to eye on the social and political message that the topic continues to raise.
After the Dolphins’ 22-7 preseason win over the Jaguars on Thursday, Flores tried to give his reasoning for the music selection.
“After the playlist was done, what you guys don’t know is, I walked up to Kenny, in front of the entire group, and said, ‘This is a challenge to you. To get open, catch the football, and make plays for this team, regardless of what’s going on outside this building.’ Flores said. “The next day, because there was a lot more attention paid to this than I ever would have imagined, I got up in front of the team, and I told them that I support Kenny. I support Kenny; I support the player protests. Quite honestly, they’re bringing attention to my story. So, let’s talk about that. I’m the son of immigrants. I’m black, I grew up poor. I grew up in New York during the stop-and-frisk era, so I’ve been stopped because I fit a description before. So everything that these guys protest, I’ve lived it, I’ve experienced it. I applaud them. Whether it’s [Colin] Kaepernick, or Eric Reid, or Kenny, I applaud those guys. I told Kenny that, and I mean it, in front of the entire team.”
The explanation from Flores, who grew up in Brownsville, Brooklyn, sounded more meaningful than the usual pass of not addressing the topic. The fact that it was a challenge for Stills added fuel to the fire of a social and political topic instead.
Stills claimed to be unbothered by the whole ordeal after Thursday’s game.
“We talked about it in house, and he handled it in house, but for the most part, I think it was just him trying to see if I could handle if someone was going to heckle me or play Jay-Z music in another stadium,” Stills stated. “If I was going to be mentally strong enough to withstand that type of treatment, I guess. I’ve been dealing with this since 2016 – music, boos, racial slurs, so I don’t think a little bit Jay-Z is going to really ruffle my feathers that bad.”
Concerning the preseason game played, Flores shared there is a quarterback competition between Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick for the starting job that will be decided in the final preseason game. Rosen came off the bench late in the third quarter and engineered a 99-yard touchdown drive, helping the Dolphins to the victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“There is still evaluation,” Flores said. “We saw a lot from both guys today. Fitzy did a good job. Josh did a good job. As a staff, we’ll get together and talk it over. We’ll make a decision we feel is best for this organization.”
Another decision the organization has on the table is possibly trading Stills. It’s unclear if his vocal criticisms of Ross for holding a fundraiser or his criticisms of Jay-Z and Roc Nation’s partnership with the NFL, have anything to do with his potentially being on the trade block.
There was a time when the NFL season just began with genuine excitement. It was all good just a week ago.