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Ross: My comments on players standing were 'misconstrued'

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross says he has no intention of forcing players to stand during the national anthem before games.

A day after the New York Daily News reported that Ross said all Dolphins players will be standing during the national anthem, he released a statement clarifying his comments:

"I have no intention of forcing our players to stand during the anthem and I regret that my comments have been misconstrued," Ross said in a statement released by the team Tuesday. "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. I know our players care about the military and law enforcement too because I've seen the same players who are fighting for social justice engaging positively with law enforcement and the military. I care passionately that the message of social justice resonates far and wide and I will continue to support and fund efforts for those who fight for equality for all."

Ross told the Daily News on Monday that he initially supported the players' decision to not stand during the anthem, but he later changed his mind after seeing how President Trump and others were interpreting their actions.

"When that message changed, and everybody was interpreting it as that was the reason, then I was against kneeling," Ross said. "I like Donald [Trump]. 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. From that standpoint, that is the way the public is interpreting it. So I think that's really incumbent upon us to adopt that. That's how, I think, the country now is interpreting the kneeling issue."

Three Dolphins players -- receiver Kenny Stills, tight end Julius Thomas and safety Michael Thomas -- took a knee during the anthem prior to games last season in effort to bring awareness to social inequality. The Dolphins recently hosted a youth conference, and players have, among other things, worked directly with police agencies in the South Florida community.

Ross, 77, was in New York on Monday to receive the ROBIE award from the Jackie Robinson Foundation for being a longtime champion of equal opportunity. Ross' RISE program is a nonprofit organization dedicated to harnessing the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress.

Following meetings between players and team owners last season, the NFL, in partnership with the Players Coalition, committed $90 million to supporting efforts and programs that combat social inequality.

The NFL does not mandate that players stand during the national anthem.

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