Miami Dolphins to skip anthems, tired of ‘fluff and empty gestures’

Members of the Dolphins' team created a video demanding action rather than symbolic gestures in the pursuit of racial justice and police reform.

The controversy surrounding the national anthem and the NFL continues more than four years after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled on the sidelines in 2016. 

For their 2020 season, the Miami Dolphins have decided to remain in their locker room while both “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” are being performed at the beginning of each game. 

Miami Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores conducts drills during training camp at Hard Rock Stadium last month in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Eighteen members of the football team created a video demanding action rather than symbolic gestures in the pursuit of social and racial justice and police reform. 

“This attempt to unify only creates more divide. So we’ll skip this song and dance, and as a team, we’ll stay inside,” several Dolphins players combined to say in the just over two-minutes-long video issued Thursday. “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.”

The Dolphins players advocate for a need for prison reform, justice against police brutality and an acknowledgment of the “millions for pregame patriotism,” referring to the $5 million the NFL receives from the U.S. military for the halftime salutes to soldiers. 

Read More: Chloe x Halle sing anthem in Breonna Taylor, George Floyd shirts before NFL kickoff

The coordinated events between the league and the military may be one reason why player protests have been interpreted by many as protesting service members. 

“We don’t need another publicity parade,” Dolphins safety Bobby McCain says. “If you speak up for change, I’ll shut up and play.”

Read More: Short of No. 24, Serena Williams falls to Azarenka at US Open

Dolphins linebacker Elandon Roberts added, “So if my dad was a soldier, but the cops killed my brother, do I stand for one anthem and kneel for the other?”

At the end of the video, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores appears, supporting his players and providing a message: “Before the media starts wondering and guessing, they just answered all your questions. We’ll just stay inside.”

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now!