MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills said he's been receiving death threats since he took to Twitter to criticize team owner Stephen Ross for his associations with President Donald Trump.
Stills told reporters Thursday he's received "five to 10" death threats since publicly calling out his boss Wednesday after the Washington Post reported that Ross was hosting a fundraiser for Trump at his home in New York.
"You can't have a non profit with this mission statement then open your doors to Trump," Stills tweeted, along with a screen capture of the mission statement for the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality.
After Miami's 34-27 preseason victory against the Atlanta Falcons, Stills was bombarded with questions from reporters about his tweet.
"The tweet doesn't, like, put me against Mr. Ross," Stills told reporters in the locker room. "I'm just trying to, like, inform him that, hey, like, the two things don't align. I don't think it's that complicated. I don't have any hard feelings toward him. There's no, like, beef. It's just, like, hey, these two things don't align and maybe somebody else hasn't told you, but I'm letting you know. It's important to me that, you know, the work that we're doing isn't just lip service. It's real. Everything that I do has been real from the very beginning, and it’s going to continue to be that way. So, I just wanted to let him know that's where I'm coming from and how I feel."
Ross released a statement through the team that said he's known Trump for 40 years, "and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions."
Stills said he hasn't spoken to Ross since the tweet but plans to do so "at some point."
"We've had plenty of private conversations (in the past), and, you know, through his statement you see, you know, his loyalty to his friend and I understand and respect that," Stills told reporters. "But the two things don't align when it comes to the non-profit and then holding this fundraiser for that man."
Stills said he's tried to distance himself from the RISE initiative and believes Ross is "trying to be" an ally, "but I don't believe that you can play both sides."
First-year head coach Brian Flores said he had a chance to speak with Stills about the matter.
"I understand him wanting to be a voice for people who don't have a voice," Flores told reporters after the game. "I respect that. My conversation with Kenny, you know, I asked him why he didn't talk to the owner, why he didn't talk to Steve (Ross) first before, you know, putting something out. And I think, you know, that's something that we have to do more of. There's got to be more communication, more conversation, just more communication if we want to really make change. And I wish he would have done that."
Entering his fifth season with the Dolphins, Stills is no stranger to controversy. He was among the Dolphins players who kneeled during the national anthem as a silent protest to highlight racial inequality in the U.S. Trump was an outspoken opponent of players kneeling during the anthem.
Stills said he's trying not to be a distraction for his teammates and remains committed to the team. But he believes the country is "in a rough place right now" and suggested there are other candidates Ross could support.
"Why are you trying to help this man raise money to continue to do the things that he's been doing?" Stills said.
Then Stills revealed that the death threats he received at the height of the kneeling controversy in 2017 have returned.
"Yeah," he said. "It's back."
Stills said he didn't report them to police.
"It's on social media," he said. "It is what it is. I'll be OK."
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