Source: Ross' Trump Fundraiser Won't Help NFL CBA Talks
Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross' planned fundraiser for President Trump tomorrow is "not helpful in a CBA environment," according to a source cited by Mike Florio of PRO FOOTBALL TALK. The NFL and the NFLPA have been "trying to negotiate without acrimony or hard feelings." But this new circumstance with Ross "dredges up frustrations" from the '17 season, when ownership and players were "sharply at odds over the anthem controversy." Ross is "not inclined to abandon the fundraiser or to stop supporting" Trump, which means that the issue "won't be going away any time soon" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 8/7). In DC, Jacob Bogage writes Ross' fundraiser controversy "could be the latest hurdle for a league still grappling with its stance toward social issues and its attitude toward a president who has harshly criticized peacefully demonstrating players and called for their dismissal" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/8).
ONLY THE START: PFT's Florio said, “I don't see (Ross) backing down, but he's got a problem here." A lot of "fair-minded people look at this and say, ‘You can't claim to be a champion for racial equality and social justice on one hand, and support this president on the other.’" Florio: "Right or wrong, you can say it's open to fair debate, but there are people out there who feel very passionately about the conflict between what they see from Stephen Ross, and I don't think this is going away any time soon.” Florio added, “This is something that I feel like Ross has kind of stumbled through, trying to figure out the best way to fix it, and I don’t know that he can fix it at this point. ... He’s facing it from several different fronts and I have a feeling it’s going to get worse for him before it gets better” (“PFT,” NBCSN, 8/8). CBS’ Nikki Battiste noted “many customers” of Equinox and SoulCycle, which Ross also has stakes in, are “threatening a boycott" ("CBS This Morning," 8/8).
TENUOUS SITUATION: Dolphins WR Kenny Stills yesterday took to Twitter to criticize Ross for hosting the fundraiser, and in West Palm Beach, Hal Habib writes the Dolphins have to "proceed with caution." There is a "difference between pushing the envelope and storming into the boss' office and flinging that envelope off his desk with a giant sweep of the arm." As for whether Ross "might force the issue, a source close to him pointed out his tendency to keep an open mind and to support players who kneeled during the anthem." Habib: "Maybe Stills will want to stick around. Maybe Ross will want him to." It "wouldn't be the first time Ross backed players' free speech" (PALM BEACH POST, 8/8). In L.A., LZ Granderson writes where Ross has "chosen to draw his line is different from where ... Stills drew his." Ross has "every right to host a fundraiser for Trump." But he "doesn't get to side step the negativity attached to it because he thinks playing both sides gives him cover" (L.A. TIMES, 8/8).