One day after Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills called out the NFL’s superficial-seeming social-justice partnership with Jay-Z and Roc Nation, head coach Brian Flores loaded up the practice playlist with a bunch of Shawn Carter’s songs. This appeared to be a strangely antagonistic move from Flores, but after Thursday’s 22-7 preseason win over the Jaguars, he tried to give his reasoning for the music selection.
A transcript of the clip:
“After the playlist was done, what you guys don’t know is, I walked up to Kenny, in front of the entire group, and said, ‘This is a challenge to you. To get open, catch the football, and make plays for this team, regardless of what’s going on outside this building.’ The next day, because there was a lot more attention paid to this than I ever would have imagined, I got up in front of the team, and I told them that I support Kenny. I support Kenny; I support the player protests. Quite honestly, they’re bringing attention to my story. So, let’s talk about that. I’m 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. I applaud them. Whether it’s [Colin] Kaepernick, or Eric Reid, or Kenny, I applaud those guys. I told Kenny that, and I mean it, in front of the entire team.”
Although simulating a football environment where Kenny Stills would feel intimidated about advocating for social justice seems unnecessary and like a waste of time, the explanation from Flores, who grew up in Brownsville, Brooklyn, sounded more meaningful than the usual hardassery utilized by Patriots disciples like Josh McDaniels or Matt Patricia. That makes it all the more confusing as to why earlier this month Flores suggested that Stills keep within the organization his grievances toward Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who held a fundraiser for Donald Trump.
“My conversation with Kenny, I asked him why he didn’t talk to the owner, why he didn’t talk to Steve [Ross] first before putting something out,” the head coach said at the time. When player and owner finally met, the conversation essentially ended in a stalemate. Shocking that the billionaire wasn’t willing to change his position.
After the Jay-Z tactic turned out to be more trouble than it was worth, only then was Flores willing to openly and unconditionally support his player. The first-year head coach is off to a great start; there’s only the entire regular season in front of him. For his part, Stills claimed to be unbothered by the whole ordeal after Thursday’s game:
We talked about it in house and he handled it in house, but for the most part I think it was just him trying to see if I could handle if someone was going to heckle me, or play Jay-Z music in another stadium, if I was going to be mentally strong enough to withstand that type of treatment I guess. I’ve been dealing with this since 2016 – music, boos, racial slurs, so I don’t think a little bit Jay-Z is going to really ruffle my feathers that bad.