In this Aug. 16, 2019, file photo, Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores watches during the first half of the team's NFL preseason football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Fla. (Photo: AP)
Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores says he supports the NFL player protest movement and receiver Kenny Stills’ involvement, but wants him to play better.
“Everything these guys protest, I’ve lived it, I’ve experienced it,” said an impassioned Flores, who is the son of immigrants from Honduras. “They’re bringing attention to my story. I’m a son of immigrants. I’m black. I grew up poor. I’ve been stopped because I fit the description.”
Flores’ comments came late Thursday following Miami’s exhibition win over Jacksonville. The subject arose because Stills objected Monday to recent remarks from Jay-Z about social activism by current and former NFL players, and the next day the Dolphins played more than half a dozen songs by the rapper at the start of practice.
Flores, who chooses the songs for practice, said he was trying to motivate Stills.
“I walked up to Kenny in front of the entire group and said, ‘This is a challenge to you to get over it and catch the football. Make plays for this team, regardless of what’s going on outside of this building,’” Flores said.
“It was a challenge to Kenny to perform regardless of what’s going on outside. He hasn’t performed to that level over the course of this training camp.”
Stills’ reaction to the Jay-Z medley?
“It was just music,” Stills said. The veteran receiver is outspoken on social issues, and has been kneeling during the national anthem for the past four seasons to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
“I’ve been dealing with this since 2016 — music, boos, racial slurs — so I don’t think a little bit of Jay-Z is going to ruffle my feathers that bad,” Stills said.
Flores said he was surprised by extensive publicity about his Jay-Z practice playlist, and told the team the next day that he supports Stills and the player protest.
“It’s important,” Flores said. “But you know what else is important? There are 89 guys in that locker room who are counting on Kenny to get open and catch the football and perform for this team.
“If anybody has a problem with that, we’ve just got a problem.”