Dolphins defensive back Michael Thomas, speaking at a town hall meeting Monday night, said he decided to go through with taking a knee during the national anthem in protest only after receiving the blessing of owner Stephen Ross in the locker room before the 2016 season opener in Seattle.
Thomas said he was wrestling with what to do because he wanted to make a stand against social inequality — like his former 49ers teammate Colin Kapernick had — but also was cognizant that the gesture might be misconstrued because the date was Sept. 11.
Thomas went through with it after he explained the predicament to Ross. According to Thomas, Ross’ response was that however the players decided to make a statement, “I’ve got y’all’s back 100 percent.”
Ross later said on multiple occasions he supported the players’ right to express themselves, but Monday was the first time Thomas detailed how Ross gave the final approval.
“I remember that like it was yesterday,” Thomas said after meeting with a group of primarily high school students from the tri-county area at Nova Southeastern University. “With everything racing through our minds, trying to decide if that was something we would actually go through with, of taking a knee … September 11th — that’s a whole different aspect.
“I saw Mr. Ross come in the locker room. I’m going up to him, trying to explain to him in a way, letting him know, like, ‘Look, we’re thinking about doing this, thinking about taking a knee.’
“And for him to stop me and say, ‘Look, Mike, whatever y’all choose to do today, I’ve got y’all’s back 100 percent’ — that’s a testament to what type of person he is, how he truly feels about equality for all, and the efforts he’s made with the RISE program. It’s great to have the owner of the Dolphins have that perspective.
“It’d be great to see more owners take after him.”
Thomas appeared on a panel to discuss social injustice with receiver Kenny Stills (who also took a knee for the anthem last season). The evening was organized by the Jason Taylor Foundation and Ross’ initiative, RISE (the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality).
RISE was founded in 2015 with the goal of using sports to improve race relations and drive social progress.
Thomas told Ross he in turn would throw his support behind RISE.
Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook