Comments made by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross have landed him on the list of people being deposed in Colin Kaepernick’s grievance against the NFL. On Monday, Ross told the New York Daily News that all of his players will be standing for the national anthem next season and that Donald Trump’s message helped him make the decision.
“[Trump’s] message became what kneeling was all about,” Ross told the Daily News. “From that standpoint, that’s the way the public is interpreting it. So I think that’s really incumbent upon us to adopt that, because that’s how I think the country is now interpreting the kneeling issue.”
By Tuesday afternoon, Kaepernick’s legal team had gotten word of Ross’ interview commentary and moved swiftly to add him to the deposition list. The attorneys are tasked with proving that NFL team owners colluded to prevent the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback from landing a job in the league. These statements could go a long way in helping them prove that.
Yahoo! Sports reported that the Dolphins owner may have given Kaepernick’s team the ammunition they need to make their case. Ross told the Daily News that he believed in the protests initially because in America, people should be free to express themselves. But when Trump asserted that kneeling was disrespectful to the country, the flag, and the military, Ross changed his mind. He agreed with Trump’s interpretation and then opposed taking a knee.
“I think initially I totally supported the players in what they were doing, because it’s America – people should be able to really speak about their choices and show them [in] doing that,” Ross told the Daily News. “But I think when you change the message, about, is it support of our country or the military, it’s a different message. When that message changed, and everybody was interpreting it as that was the reason, then I was against the kneeling.”
The Washington Post reported that depositions are slated to begin this month in the collusion case against the league. Ross joins an ever-growing list of witnesses who will be questioned about their role in keeping Kaepernick unemployed.
So far, Trump supporters including Papa John’s founder and former CEO John Schnatter, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft have been called to testify.
The list doesn’t end there, though. Several general managers, coaches, NFL executives and officials, and even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s wife, Jane, have also been summoned.
If Kaepernick’s attorneys are able to discover more evidence that NFL owners made a conscious, collective decision not to break ranks and offer the veteran quarterback a job, then the ramifications will be far-reaching. Their burden of proof is heavy and some legal experts say that they are fighting an uphill battle. Stephen Ross’ revelation, however, has lightened the load a bit. They say that where there is smoke, there is fire. And Ross might be the smoking gun.