Donald Trump controversy: Miami Dolphins owner calls for ‘unifying leadership’

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross bristled at Donald Trump’s recent remarks degrading NFL players who protest during the national anthem. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The owner of the Miami Dolphins, Stephen Ross, defended the players in his organization who have protested during the national anthem and called for a different tone from President Donald Trump.

“Our country needs unifying leadership right now, not more divisiveness,” Ross said in a statement released Saturday night. “We need to seek to understand each other and have civil discourse instead of condemnation and sound bites.”

Last season, Dolphins players Kenny Stills and Michael Thomas and former player Arian Foster all kneeled in protest during the national anthem.

“I know our players who kneeled for the anthem and these are smart young men of character who want to make our world a better place for everyone,” Ross said. “They wanted to start a conversation and are making a difference in our community, including working with law enforcement to bring people together. We all can benefit from learning, listening and respecting each other.  Sports is a common denominator in our world. We all have the responsibility to use this platform to promote understanding, respect and equality.”

RELATED: [ Trump continues railing against protesting NFL, NBA players]

Trump, speaking at a rally in Alabama on Friday, said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of the NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now?'”

“You know, some owner … is going to say, ‘That guy who disrespects our flag, he’s fired,'” Trump said.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association and other owners released statements defending the right to protest and free speech in America. It is possible many of the players who have expressed outrage about Trump’s comments on Twitter may not take action during Sunday’s NFL games.

Ross is the founder of RISE, a nonprofit organization dedicated to harnessing the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress. Led by an unprecedented alliance of professional sports leagues, organizations, athletes, educators, media networks and sports professionals, RISE uses sports to promote understanding, respect and equality.

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