MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When four Miami Dolphins players took a knee during the national anthem last Sunday to send a message, it struck a nerve with some of the team’s fans.
Such a nerve, that a small group of those fans, led by longtime Dolphins supporter Howard Shoelson, sent a message right back to the team.
“Here we go,” Shoelson said, holding up a Miami Dolphins shirt before dropping it in a fire pit. “We’re burning Dolphins jerseys.”
The former Miami-Dade cop, who spent three decades on the force, believes it was unpatriotic for players to kneel during the national anthem.
“When I saw four players not stand up, I turned my TV off I said, I’m not doing this,” Shoelson said. “I’m burning my jerseys. I’m not gonna support the Dolphins.”
So Shoelson organized a Dolphins T-shirt burning in his Davie backyard.
“Everyone is entitled to their beliefs,” Shoelson said. “We have freedom of speech but not on the football field. They’re there to play football. They’re getting paid to play football. That’s not the right platform.”
The Dolphins players who knelt – Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, Jelani Jenkins and Kenny Stills – would disagree.
They say they’re demanding racial equality and this is a highly visible platform.
“I still put my hand over my heart,” said Thomas, after the game. “I still sung the national anthem. I want to show unity. I do care about both just because I want to raise awareness does not mean I’m anti-flag.”
“They say it’s not the time to do this,” Foster said. “It’s never the time in somebody else’s eyes.”
Player Jelani Jenkins wrote about his beliefs for Time magazine.
He said, “To stand idly by and witness men and children who look like me being senselessly shot and killed is not an option. No more hashtags. Enough is enough.”
He also wrote, “This is not about football, the flag, the military or Jelani Jenkins. This is about the message: equality for all.”
Shoelson sees it differently.
“You can protest whatever you want but doing it and not standing up for the flag, that’s not the right place,” Shoelson.
Shoelson believes the players who don’t stand for the national anthem should be benched.
Our news partners at The Miami Herald are reporting that Jelani Jenkins said he will now stand for the anthem. Kenny Stills and Michael Thomas are debating whether to stand. Arian Foster said he will continue to kneel.
The Dolphins play at New England this Sunday.