08/23/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 08/23/2019 12:12
Following the Miami Dolphins' preseason win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, coach Brian Flores addressed the decision to play eight straight Jay-Z songs in practice Tuesday, a day after wideout Kenny Stills criticized the rapper's social justice partnership with the NFL.
'Yeah, I figured I would get this question. So you know after the playlist was done, what you guys don't know is, you know I walked up to Kenny (Stills), in front of the entire group, and said, 'This is a challenge to you, to get open, catch the football, make plays for this team, regardless of what's going on outside of this building,'' Flores said.
Flores added: 'I would say, and I said this to him, he hasn't performed up to that level over the course of training camp, or as I've seen. So that was the challenge -- to get open, catch the football and make plays for this team, regardless of what's going on outside of this building.'
The choice to play the Jay-Z songs came after Stills previously criticized owner Stephen Ross for hosting a fundraiser for President Donald Trump. At the time, Flores said he'd wished that Stills had discussed the issue with Ross before making a comment on social media.
Stills is one of two players in the NFL, along with Panthers safety Eric Reid, who continue to kneel during the playing of the national anthem to protest racial inequality and social injustice in America.
Flores told reporters Thursday he supports the player protests.
'The next day, because there was a lot more attention paid to this than I ever would've imagine, I got up in front of the team and I told them that I support Kenny. I support Kenny. I support the player protests,' Flores said. 'I mean, quite honestly, they're bringing attention to my story, so let's talk about that. I am 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.'
'So yeah, I applaud those guys who protest. Whether it's (Colin) Kaepernick or Eric Reid or Kenny, I applaud those guys. I told Kenny that in our meeting in front of the entire team. So that's where I stand on this thing and I think it got way more press than it needed to. I'm trying to challenge all my players. I'm going to do that how I see fit. And look, what these guys protest about is important. I lived it. I experienced it. I don't know how many people have it, but I lived it. So I understand why guys protest. And it's important.'
Flores added: 'But you know what else is important to me? There's 89 guys in that locker room who are counting Kenny to get open and catch the football and to perform for this team and that's important to me. If anybody's got a problem with that, then we just got a problem. We're gonna agree to disagree. And I feel like that's important and that's where I stand on this thing. And whatever scrutiny or media or whatever I get, then that's what I get. I believe ... That's it. I lived it. I don't know how many people here have, you know, but I lived it. So that's where I'm at on that.'
Flores explained his stance to stand during the anthem: 'I stand because I want to stand. I feel like it's important to stand. I do. I feel like it's important to stand.'
Stills said Thursday the practice setlist didn't perturb him.
'We talked about it in-house and he handled it in-house,' Stills said. 'For the most part, I think it was him seeing if I could handle if people were going to heckle me or play Jay-Z in another stadium if I could be mentally strong enough to handle that sort of treatment. I've been dealing with this since 2016 -- music, boos, racial slurs. So I don't think a little Jay-Z music is going to ruffle my feathers that bad.'