MIAMI (AP) — Miami Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills says he was pleasantly surprised to be joined by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for visits with police and youngsters in an effort to build better community relations.
"It was nice for him to take some time out of his day to make it and see what we're doing," Stills said Wednesday.
The collaboration Tuesday came from the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality founded by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. Goodell and Dolphins Stills, Julius Thomas and Michael Thomas visited two schools and the North Miami Police Department.
The three players have staged national anthem protests at games, and said they accept the team's new policy requiring players to stand or wait in the tunnel during the song. In a memo to team owners, Goodell reiterated the league's belief that everyone should stand for the anthem and outlined plans to highlight efforts of players trying to bring attention to the social issues behind the game-day protests. Goodell said those plans would be presented to owners next week.
Stills said his position has evolved in part because of conversations with police.
"What took me aback was hearing from the police officers that from our protests, they've been getting a lot of negative reaction," Stills said. "People see them and are, 'Hands up, don't shoot.' It's starting make the police feel like every one of them is a bad guy. We understand: every cop isn't a bad cop. They're doing their best.
"We were telling the young kids, if you see a police officer, ask for help. Thank them for their service. Try and build a relationship. And hopefully we can avoid all the issues we've been having."
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