Sunday afternoon, the Miami Dolphins and the New England face off in their first AFC East rivalry game of the season. Before kickoff, the Dolphins will remain in the locker room while "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" and the national anthem are played. The team confirmed the news with a message criticizing the league's "empty gestures."
The Dolphins released a two-minute, 17-second video on Thursday featuring several members of the roster. They called for action instead of empty gestures. These players said that they are fed up and want the owners to get more actively involved in political and legislative change. Elandon Roberts also asked about what "is allowed" during the anthems, saying, "So if my dad was a soldier but the cops killed my brother, do I stand for one anthem and kneel for the other?"
BREAKING NEWS: The@MiamiDolphins players will stay inside for both national anthems. They express their discontentment with what they call “fluff and empty gestures” by the @NFL pic.twitter.com/ghUktHhPt9— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) September 10, 2020
"This attempt to unify only creates more divide," several players said. "So we'll skip this song and dance, and as a team we'll stay inside. We need changed hearts, not just a response to pressure. Enough, no more fluff and empty gestures. We need owners with influence and pockets bigger than ours to call up officials and flex political power."
According to ESPN, the players featured in the video are: defensive linemen Christian Wilkins, Davon Godchaux and Shaq Lawson, offensive linemen Ted Karras and Jesse Davis, linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts, safeties Bobby McCain, Eric Rowe and Kavon Frazier, cornerbacks Byron Jones and Jamal Perry, tight ends Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe, wide receivers Preston Williams and Isaiah Ford, and running backs Matt Breida and Patrick Laird. The video also featured head coach Brian Flores. He appeared to show support for the players and said that the players "answered the questions" before the media "starts wondering and guessing."
Additionally, Flores also revealed that team owner Stephen Ross was supportive of the video. Ross previously drew attention for hosting a fundraising dinner for President Donald Trump in the Hamptons. Wide receiver Kenny Stills — who kneeled during the national anthem during his time in South Florida — made critical comments about Flores prior to a trade that sent him to Houston.
"I talked to Steve about the video. He was supportive," Flores said. "It was directed at everyone [in the NFL]. I think every individual in this country can do a little bit better — players, coaches, owners, media. That was the message. To try to misconstrue the message or take it in some different light, that's wasn't what the message was supposed to be."
The Houston Texans took a similar route prior to Thursday's kickoff game. The team remained in the locker room during the national anthem. They then took the field and stood next to the Kansas City Chiefs in a "moment of unity."