Kenny Stills had a big week on the field, pacing the Miami Dolphins with 106 yards and a 75-yard touchdown in his team’s Week 1 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
The sixth-year wide receiver may have had an even bigger week off it.
As South Florida’s WLRN reported Thursday, Stills will be presented by Miami nonprofit SAVE with the Luminary Icon Award “for his contributions to social justice.” A day earlier, the former New Orleans Saints wideout was honored by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
“No NFL player does more community service than Kenny Stills of the Miami Dolphins,” Rubio tweeted Wednesday. “You don’t have to agree with how or why he has chosen to exercise the First Amendment before every game to acknowledge the hours he gives voluntarily, on his day off, to serve his fellow Americans.”
Rubio’s First Amendment reference alludes to the well-documented fact that Stills is among several NFL players who kneel during the pregame playing of the national anthem in order to raise awareness of social injustice. Inspired by the protests of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Stills began kneeling in 2016 not to “disrespect anyone” but to call attention to police shootings and “demand justice for the victims.”
As Rubio and SAVE noted, Stills has supplemented his demonstrations, which continued Sunday with teammate Albert Wilson, with a consistent commitment to his own community service. Among organizations he’s supported: Empowered Youth, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Dream Defenders and Justice League NYC.
“In 2016,” WLRN’s Andrew Quintana reported, “he helped organize a town hall meeting that brought local leaders and law enforcement together to discuss and address racial inequality.”
As noted by the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Stills and Wilson also paid “visits to Miami VA Healthcare System and West Palm Beach VA Medical Center on Tuesday — the 18-year anniversary of 9/11.”
“My goal truly is to build bridges,” Stills says on his website. “I want to foster a positive relationship between police officers and the communities they protect. I want to encourage open conversation, which allows people to discuss issues and learn from each other. I want to help establish opportunities for at-risk kids to have the same opportunities in and outside of the classroom as everyone else. At the end of the day, I believe we can all work to foster a spirit of compassion, understanding, and awareness within our communities.”