Miami Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills vacationed this offseason in Africa Authentic Customized Bears Jerseys , led several teammates on a training trip to Nebraska and returned to find the NFL's national anthem debate again at peak volume.
"We've got to clean up how things are looking," Stills said following the Dolphins' first training camp practice Thursday.
The sixth-year pro is part of the debate because he kneeled during the anthem the past two seasons and has been vocal discussing social injustice issues that inspired the protest.
Stills would prefer the league had no anthem policy so players could do as they wished, and said he'll wait until a policy is set to decide what he'll do during the anthem this season.
"At some point before the season starts, the league and the players association are going to come to an agreement," he said. "And at that point I'll have a better idea what I'll be doing."
Last week the league and union issued a joint statement saying the two sides are still working on a resolution. Their statement came hours after The Associated Press reported Dolphins players who protest on the field during the anthem could be suspended for up to four games under a team policy issued last week.
The Dolphins subsequently issued a statement saying all options regarding the team's policy remain open.
On Thursday, coach Adam Gase said he doubted a Miami player would be suspended for protesting during the anthem.
"I mean, if anybody knew actual rules in the NFL, good luck suspending somebody," Gase said. "It takes about 5,000 things before anybody can get suspended by a club."
Gase said he doesn't see anthem issue as potentially divisive for his team.
"I think they do a good job of when issues come up, they get together and hammer it out," Gase said. "These guys aren't shy about speaking up. They've done a good job of making sure, as a group, they talk through things."
Three-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey also plans to continue protesting, but wants people to quit seeing this as an anthem issue. The Tennessee Titans lineman said he will continue protesting by raising his fist at the end of the anthem.
"The biggest thing that we have right now is the way the justice system is set up for minorities," said Casey, whose wife is an attorney. "And that's just what the whole battle is about Youth Michael Gallup Jersey , trying to bring light to enlighten the things that's going on around the minority community."
The league hasn't been able to reach an agreement. On Wednesday, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he'll insist his players stand for the anthem.
Stills' reaction to Jones' comments?
"I wouldn't expect anything different," Stills said.
Stills said he hadn't spoken much with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross about the issue since last year. Ross didn't attend the first day of training camp.
Stills tuned out the anthem debate this offseason by traveling to Victoria Falls, Kruger National Park and Cape Town, where he learned about African culture, went on safaris and tried bungee jumping. More recently, he spent time in Lincoln, Nebraska, with other Dolphins wideouts and a receivers coach he has known since he was in the 10th grade.
"The anthem stuff was becoming a really quiet, quiet topic," Stills said.
No more. Defensive end Robert Quinn, who protested during the anthem while with the Rams last year, was asked following his first Dolphins practice what the league should do about a policy.
"I'll just say one thing: It's called freedom of speech," he said. "Simple as that."
Quinn, Stills and others have been targets of criticism for their protests, which they believe have been misconstrued as unpatriotic.
But Stills was nominated by teammates last year for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, a reflection of his standing in locker room. His latest community project is with the nationwide OK Program Titans Luke Falk Jersey , which mentors young black men.
"I think I've done a good job of trying to figure out ways to continue to use my voice and platform for the right things," Stills said, "and put the messaging back in the right direction."
Teddy Bridgewater refused to think about the possibility of never playing football again.
Not when he was clutching his mangled left leg and screaming in pain. Not during the nearly two years of intense rehabilitation that followed.
Bridgewater made it back from a gruesome knee injury in August 2016 to throw two passes in a game late last season for the Minnesota Vikings. Still on the comeback trail, the 25-year-old quarterback is now with the New York Jets and eager for his next opportunity.
”I’m not going to give a percentage or anything,” Bridgewater said of his health during a conference call Wednesday, ”but I do believe that I’ll be able to perform at a high level.”
Speaking to reporters for the first time since signing a one-year deal with the Jets, he declined to give details about the status of his knee while simply saying, ”I’m feeling good.” Bridgewater also said he’s ”not comfortable” discussing whether he thought he’d be a full participant during organized team activities and minicamp this spring. Those conversations, he said, have to be done first with the Jets’ coaches and trainers.
”I’m very confident,” he said of regaining his form. ”I’m confident in myself, confident in the athletic training staff and the coaching staff here, that they can eventually get me back to the player that I once was. At the same time, we’re only in March and the only way to get better is to put the work in now. I’m excited about this opportunity that I have to not only be a Jet, but to work with the group of guys on this team, with the staff that’s here.
”I just can’t wait. I’m excited.”
Bridgewater was a first-round draft pick out of Louisville in 2014 and was selected to the Pro Bowl after his second season with the Vikings. But during a practice the following summer, he suffered a non-contact injury in which he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and dislocated the knee joint. It sidelined Bridgewater for essentially two full seasons Jose Ramirez Jersey , other than those two passes – one was intercepted – he threw for the Vikings late in a 34-7 win over Cincinnati on Dec. 17.
”There was never any doubt in my mind that I would get to that point again,” Bridgewater said. ”When I first stepped on that field for the first time last year, it was a great feeling to just know that everything, all the hard work that I put in, all the time and dedication that everyone who was involved in me overcoming what I overcame, it was just a great feeling.
”It was very rewarding to not only myself, but everyone who was involved in everything that I went through.”
Minnesota moved on from Bridgewater this offseason, allowing him to become a free agent while signing Kirk Cousins to a massive deal to be the Vikings’ new starting quarterback. It was a quiet ending to what Bridgewater hopes is just the first chapter of his NFL career.
”Right now, I have to continue to just focus on the present,” Bridgewater said. ”I can’t look back. I enjoyed my time there, the fans are awesome and everyone there was top of the line, but I have to focus on the now and prepare myself for this upcoming season.”
Bridgewater joined the Jets because he said he liked the direction they are heading. His deal is worth $6 million, with a maximum value of $15 million with incentives, but includes just $500,000 in guaranteed money. In essence, Bridgewater is gambling on himself to show New York – and other NFL teams – that he can be at least close to the quarterback he was before the injury.
”It isn’t about proving to the people who counted you out or doubted you,” Bridgewater said. ”It’s about proving to the people who believed in you and showing them that Kirk Gibson Jersey , hey, your prayers, your belief, it all paid off.”
Where Bridgewater will ultimately fit in the Jets’ plans is uncertain. They re-signed Josh McCown, the starter last season, to a one-year deal and he’s expected to enter the offseason program at No. 1 on the team’s depth chart. But while Bridgewater was on the call with reporters, Jets team brass was attending USC quarterback Sam Darnold’s pro day in Los Angeles.
New York traded up from No. 6 in this year’s draft to acquire Indianapolis’ pick at third overall. That means the Jets are likely focused on selecting one of the top quarterbacks available. They are attending the pro day for Wyoming’s Josh Allen later this week and have a workout scheduled with Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield on Saturday.
”Being a quarterback or just being an athlete, the ultimate competitor, as a player, I love competition,” Bridgewater said, ”because it not only makes you better but it makes the team better.”