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Miami Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills vacationed this offseason in Africa Shayne Gostisbehere Jersey , led several teammates on a training trip to Nebraska and returned to find the NFL's national anthem debate again at peak volume.
"We've got to clean up how things are looking," Stills said following the Dolphins' first training camp practice Thursday.
The sixth-year pro is part of the debate because he kneeled during the anthem the past two seasons and has been vocal discussing social injustice issues that inspired the protest.
Stills would prefer the league had no anthem policy so players could do as they wished, and said he'll wait until a policy is set to decide what he'll do during the anthem this season.
"At some point before the season starts, the league and the players association are going to come to an agreement," he said. "And at that point I'll have a better idea what I'll be doing."
Last week the league and union issued a joint statement saying the two sides are still working on a resolution. Their statement came hours after The Associated Press reported Dolphins players who protest on the field during the anthem could be suspended for up to four games under a team policy issued last week.
The Dolphins subsequently issued a statement saying all options regarding the team's policy remain open.
On Thursday, coach Adam Gase said he doubted a Miami player would be suspended for protesting during the anthem.
"I mean, if anybody knew actual rules in the NFL, good luck suspending somebody," Gase said. "It takes about 5,000 things before anybody can get suspended by a club."
Gase said he doesn't see anthem issue as potentially divisive for his team.
"I think they do a good job of when issues come up, they get together and hammer it out," Gase said. "These guys aren't shy about speaking up. They've done a good job of making sure Tyler Seguin Jersey , as a group, they talk through things."
Three-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey also plans to continue protesting, but wants people to quit seeing this as an anthem issue. The Tennessee Titans lineman said he will continue protesting by raising his fist at the end of the anthem.
"The biggest thing that we have right now is the way the justice system is set up for minorities," said Casey, whose wife is an attorney. "And that's just what the whole battle is about, trying to bring light to enlighten the things that's going on around the minority community."
The league hasn't been able to reach an agreement. On Wednesday, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he'll insist his players stand for the anthem.
Stills' reaction to Jones' comments?
"I wouldn't expect anything different," Stills said.
Stills said he hadn't spoken much with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross about the issue since last year. Ross didn't attend the first day of training camp.
Stills tuned out the anthem debate this offseason by traveling to Victoria Falls, Kruger National Park and Cape Town, where he learned about African culture, went on safaris and tried bungee jumping. More recently, he spent time in Lincoln Radek Faksa Jersey , Nebraska, with other Dolphins wideouts and a receivers coach he has known since he was in the 10th grade.
"The anthem stuff was becoming a really quiet, quiet topic," Stills said.
No more. Defensive end Robert Quinn, who protested during the anthem while with the Rams last year, was asked following his first Dolphins practice what the league should do about a policy.
"I'll just say one thing: It's called freedom of speech," he said. "Simple as that."
Quinn, Stills and others have been targets of criticism for their protests, which they believe have been misconstrued as unpatriotic.
But Stills was nominated by teammates last year for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, a reflection of his standing in locker room. His latest community project is with the nationwide OK Program, which mentors young black men.
"I think I've done a good job of trying to figure out ways to continue to use my voice and platform for the right things," Stills said Jeff Petry Jersey Kids , "and put the messaging back in the right direction."
The Arizona Diamondbacks didn’t waste any time breaking this game open.
Ketel Marte and Alex Avila each hit two-run homers and the Diamondbacks scored eight runs in the first three innings to power their way to a 9-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night.
”We just did a good job of being aggressive in the zone,” Arizona center fielder Jon Jay said. ”You saw guys put some good barrels on balls and we were ready to hit right from the start.”
Marte’s blast capped a three-run first, while Avila’s shot in the third extended the NL West-leading Diamondbacks’ advantage to 8-0.
Jay doubled in each of the first two innings, the second of which drove in two runs. The center fielder is hitting .340 in 13 games since being acquired June 6 from Kansas City in a trade.
”I feel very fortunate to have been traded here,” Jay said. ”It’s a great group of guys who know how to go about their business. You can see why this team is successful.”
Staked to the early cushion, Zack Godley (8-5) won his third straight start. He gave up three runs – two earned – and four hits in six innings with five strikeouts and three walks.
”A lot of times it’s hard to pitch in games like this because you can lose your concentration with the big lead, but he kept making pitches,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.
Godley, though, said he didn’t feel any pressure in trying to hold the eight-run advantage.
”Heck, I’ll take eight runs in the first three innings every time,” he said with a smile.
Avila finished with three RBIs as he also doubled home a run in the ninth. The veteran catcher entered the game hitting .109.
Chad Kuhl (5-5) lasted just two-plus innings and was lifted following Avila’s homer. Kuhl was tagged for eight runs and eight hits after allowing three earned runs or less in seven of his previous eight starts.
”I don’t think balls were coming out (of his hand) as they have for whatever that reason may be Viktor Arvidsson Jersey ,” Kuhl said. ”I just felt like tonight was a little bit different. They hammered balls over the plate. You just try your best to move on from this one.”
Kuhl was supposed to pitch Wednesday night against Milwaukee but the game was rained out after a delay of slightly more than two hours. Lovullo thought that might have worked in the Diamondbacks’ favor.
”He had to reverse his game plan,” Lovullo said. ”He thought he was starting against the Brewers and then he had less than a day to prepare for us. That’s difficult.”
Pittsburgh rookie Austin Meadows had three hits.
Daniel Descalso’s sacrifice fly brought home the game’s first run before Marte followed with his sixth home run into the right-field stands. Paul Goldschmidt singled in Jay in the second to make it 6-0.
Francisco Cervelli hit an RBI single in the fourth inning for the Pirates. Starling Marte doubled in a run and scored on Colin Moran’s sacrifice fly in the sixth.
The Diamondbacks have scored 35 runs in going 3-1 against Pittsburgh this season.
Diamondbacks: RHP Shelby Miller (Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery) rejoined the team following four minor league rehab starts and is scheduled to be activated from the disabled list Monday to pitch at Miami. Miller was injured April 22, 2017, while facing the Los Angeles Dodgers. He will take the rotation spot of RHP Matt Koch, who was optioned to Triple-A Reno, while RHP Jake Barrett was recalled from the Aces to provide extra bullpen help and got the final out.
Pirates: RHP AJ Schugel (right shoulder discomfort) has started playing catch on flat ground at the team’s spring training facility in Bradenton, Florida. The reliever has been on the DL all season.
TIME TO MAKE UP
Wednesday’s rainout will be made up July 14 when the Pirates and Brewers play a traditional doubleheader starting at 12:35 p.m. ET.
Diamondbacks: LHP Patrick Corbin (6-5, 3.48 ERA) is 1-2 with a 5.90 ERA in five career starts against the Pirates.
Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (4-5, 4.42) has won both starts with a 1.54 ERA since being activated from the DL on June 10. He missed two weeks with a sprained right ring finger.
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