NFL National Anthem Controversy: Miami Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross Backs off Comments Suggesting He'd Force Players to Stand

After Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross implied this week he'd force his players to stand for the national anthem next season, he quickly attempted to back off those comments on Tuesday. 

"All of our players will be standing," Ross told the New York Daily News Monday. 

The last NFL season was, in many ways, defined by anthem-kneeling protests aimed at raising awareness about the oppression of black people in America. Ross claimed Tuesday his earlier comments regarding the protests were being misunderstood.

"I have no intention of forcing our players to stand during the anthem and I regret that my comments have been misconstrued," he said in a statement. "I've shared my opinion with all our players: I'm passionate about the cause of social justice and I feel that kneeling is an ineffective tactic that alienates more people than it enlists."

Earlier in the week, however, he said his feelings on the protests had changed largely because of President Donald Trump, who railed against the protests regularly. Trump thought it was disrespectful to the military, despite the protests being stated as an act against oppression and police brutality. 

"Initially, I totally supported the players in what they were doing...It's America and people should be able to really speak about their choices," Ross said to the Daily News

Ross then, however, added his feelings had been changed by Trump's anger.

"I like Donald," Ross told the Daily News. "I don't support everything that he says. Overall, I think he was trying to make a point, and his message became what kneeling was all about."

The NFL protests were sparked by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was kept out of the league for the entire season amid his work as an advocate. Trump talked and tweeted about the kneeling protests relentlessly—he even brought it up during his State of the Union address—even calling for all players who didn't stand to be fired, saying in September, "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he's fired."

Those comments backfired on Trump, with representatives from nearly every team in the league protesting Trump during the following week's games.