The criticism came packaged unlike many on social media these days.
It didn’t attack Kenny Stills personally. It didn’t contain a string of four-letter words. And there was no evidence that the writer’s keyboard was suffering from a severe caps-lock malfunction.
“It was like, ‘Hey, I’m a big fan of yours. I have a ton of respect for you as a player and as a person and I really just think you’re making the wrong decision,’ ” Stills said.
The choice Stills had made was to pull out of a trip he and a dozen NFL players were taking, back when they believed it was a goodwill trip to Israel. Stills, along with five others, canceled their plans once they become convinced they were being used as political pawns by the government against the Palestinians. Five players went ahead with the trip, including former University of Miami defensive lineman Calais Campbell of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Given the hot-button nature of the political climate in the Middle East, there was no way for Stills to please everybody, including the man contacting him via Instagram.
“It was a really thoughtful message,” Stills said.
And what happened next should be a message to just about anyone who passionately posts on social media.
Stills didn’t fire back at the man.
He called him personally.
“I know that I can’t speak to everyone about the situation and the decision I made, so I told him, ‘All right, well, what’s your number? I’ll call you and explain the situation I’m in and why I made this decision,’ ” Stills said.
People on different sides of an issue, talking it out? Really?
“It’s having a conversation, being open to the conversation and then respecting each other,” Stills said.
In case you’re wondering, here why Stills canceled his trip:
“I just was more hurt that I was used. And I didn’t know I was going to be used and so I had to back out of that trip because of that, and I really want to educate myself,” Stills said.
Which is what Stills is doing now — learning more about the situation.
“I am going to make this trip on my own, on my own dime, and not rely on somebody else from the government paying for it and trying to sell me whatever message it is they’re trying to sell or not sell, or put me in a position where I look like I’m supporting somebody that I’m not.”
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