Tonight is Kenny Stills’ first game with the Texans after being traded to Houston last month. The Miami Dolphins traded him and left tackle Laremy Tunsil for two first-round picks, a second-round pick, offensive tackle Julién Davenport and cornerback Johnson Bademosi.
The Texans also received a fourth-round draft pick in the deal, which came after they agreed to ship Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks.
The trade signaled that the Dolphins are in full-on rebuilding mode since Tunsil and Stills were considered to be two of the best players on the team. It also bolstered Houston’s offensive line which they sorely needed to protect quarterback Deshaun Watson.
“I would say, and I said this to him, he hasn’t performed up to that level over the course of training camp, or as I’ve seen. So that was the challenge, to get open, catch the football and make plays for this team, regardless of what’s going on outside of this building,” Head coach Brian Flores said of Stills being traded.
There was some tension between the star wide receiver and the Dolphins front office. Kenny Stills criticized Dolphins owner Stephen Ross for holding a fundraiser for President Donald Trump and Jay-Z for partnering with the NFL.
Stills has never been one to shy away from controversy or speaking his mind. He’s been one of the few players in the NFL to continue kneeling into 2019 and has said repeatedly that he will continue to do so.
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Hopefully, his political statements and outspoken personality don’t cause the same tension with the Houston Texans front office.
Stills had a Strained Relationship with the Dolphins Front Office
Kenny Stills is a man who speaks his mind, especially about social issues. Speaking on Jay-Z’s new deal with the NFL last month, he said “Some of the ways he answered his questions, talking about we’re moving past kneeling, like he ever protested.” He continued, “Choosing to speak for the people like he had spoken to the people. … I wonder how many common people that he knows or has spoken to. I wonder if he’s read my Facebook comments or my Instagram comments or some of the things people say to me. To say we’re moving past something, it didn’t seem very informed.
Following Stills’ comments, Coach Brian Flores played 8 consecutive Jay-Z songs at the next team practice. The coach said the songs were not meant to poke fun at the wide receiver but rather to motivate him.
“It was a challenge to Kenny to perform regardless of whatever is going on outside,” Flores told reporters after the Dolphins 22-7 preseason victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. “I would say, and I said this to him, he hasn’t performed up to that level over the course of training camp, or as I’ve seen. So that was the challenge — to get open, catch the football and make plays for this team, regardless of what’s going on outside of this building.”
He also criticized Dolphins owner Stephen Ross for supporting Donald Trump. He retweeted Ross’ non-profit “Rise” who’s missions statement is “to educate and empower the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve race relations” and added this comment, “You can’t have a non profit with this mission statement then open your doors to Trump.”
After a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons last month, he again called out owner Stephen Ross for holding a fundraiser for Donald Trump.
“And our country’s in a rough place right now and I think we could be doing more. I think there’s other candidates that he could support. It’s not about Democrat or Republican or any of those things. It’s literally about why. Why are you trying to help this man raise money to continue to do things that he’s been doing?”
Stills’ criticisms might have had something to do with him being traded. He’s been Miami’s best receiver averaging nearly 15 yards per catch and 6 touchdowns in the past two seasons. Miami has been purging all of their assets for draft picks prior to the season so he was probably being traded anyway but the tension between him, the coach and the owner may have played a factor.
Kenny Stills’ History of Protesting
Stills is one of the few remaining NFL players to continue to take a knee during the national anthem in support of former quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
He kneeled for every game in the 2018 season and has said that he will continue to do so to show solidarity with Kaepernick and bring awareness to social justice issues.
When asked on his decision to keep kneeling throughout the 2018 season, Stills told reporters, “It’s not going to change,” adding, “Activism isn’t something you just kind of get involved in and then turn your back on it. Once your eyes are open to some of the things that are happening, you continue to work and try to grow and create change for the rest of your life. It’s something I’m committed to forever.”
Kaepernick was appreciative of the support from Stills and offered support to the wide receiver on Twitter. “My Brother @KSTiLLS continues to show his courage, morality, resilience and continues to take a knee!!! Keep going strong Brother!!!✊?”
After a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons last month, Stills said he received 5 to 10 death threats for his continued protests but will not back down.
“I honestly don’t think it’s that big of a deal or that courageous,” Stills said during a post-game interview. “It’s human being to human being. And it’s not right. I don’t want to associate myself with bad people and we shouldn’t want to be associated with bad people.”
Stills has continually reiterated that he will keep kneeling in the face of any consequences or criticisms.