Miami Dolphins WR Kenny Stills continues to kneel before every game during the National Anthem and recently, has been very critical of rapper Jay-Z’s recent partnership with the NFL.
On Tuesday, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores decided to play eight straight Jay-Z songs during practice, which some felt was in response to Stills’ criticism of Jay-Z. However, Stills was not bothered.
“It was just music, was my reaction,” Stills said after the Dolphins’ victory over Jaguars on Thursday night. “We play music at practice every day, and Coach (Flores) kind of came up to me during practice, and was like ‘we’re going to be playing Jay-Z today,’ and that was it.”
Stills revealed why Flores decided to go with that particular playlist.
“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,” he said. “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.”
After the Dolphins’ victory over the Jaguars, Flores revealed the method behind the madness:
“So 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 of this building,” Flores said.
“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. I mean, 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. So, yeah, I applaud those guys who protest. So whether it’s (Colin) Kaepernick or Eric Reid or Kenny (Stills), I applaud those guys. I told Kenny that in our meeting, in front of the entire team. So that’s where I stand on this thing, and I think it got – it got way more press than it needed to.
“I’m trying to challenge one of my players, and I’m going to do that how I see fit. Look, what these guys protest about is important. I lived it. I experienced it. I don’t know how many people have, but I lived it. So I understand why guys protest, and it’s important. But you know what else is important to me? That guys perform. There’s 89 guys in that locker room who are counting on Kenny to get open, catch the football, and perform for this team, and that’s important to me. If anybody’s got a problem with that, then we’ve just got a problem. We’re going to agree to disagree.
“I feel like that’s important, and that’s where I stand on this thing. Whatever scrutiny or media or whatever I get, then that’s what I get. I believe, and that’s it. Look, the player protest, I lived it. I mean, I don’t know how many people in here have, but I lived it. So that’s where I’m at on that. It was a challenge to Kenny to perform regardless of whatever’s going on outside. I would say – and I’ve said this to him – he hasn’t performed to that level over the course of this training camp as I’ve seen him. So that was a challenge.”
Stills will definitely get heckled throughout the season, and in reality, you practice to prepare for all situations, including taunting, so on some level, you have to give Flores credit for recognizing the moment, and using it as a teachable moment.