Dolphins' Ross No Longer On NFL's Working Group Committee
Former NFLer Chris Long said that Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross has "agreed to step down from the league's Working Group Committee, which is comprised of players and owners and focuses on various social justice issues facing the league," according to Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. The Dolphins responded to comments Long made to SI.com, as the team said that this was "Ross' decision and he wasn't dismissed" from the WGC. Ross had been one of the committee's "founding members" in '18, but recently has drawn criticism for holding a fundraiser for President Trump. Long tweeted of Ross' departure, "We've worked with a number of owners who lean conservative and have even supported Trump in the past. ... [But] he held a fundraiser for a guy who called protesting players 'sons of bitches' and campaigned for them to lose jobs." He added, "The working group is directly involved. You can see how that's a conflict of interest that transcends politics. I respect [Ross'] work with RISE. Don't get it? Can't help." A Dolphins spokesperson said, "Stephen made the decision last week and informed the NFL and members of the working committee that he was going to step aside from the group and continue to focus his efforts on RISE" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/21).
AGREE TO DISAGREE: Long responded to criticism from Panthers S Eric Reid that the Players Coalition has been ineffective, saying that one of the things the group has "accomplished was making a statement by getting Ross removed" from the WGC. Long said, "The one thing I really disagree with Eric on is that the coalition hasn't done anything. The coalition is autonomous. We don't work with the owners. In fact, we just removed, or got Stephen Ross to be off the working group" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 8/20).
RISE'S FUTURE: SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL's Abe Madkour notes nerves within RISE are "frayed after Ross faced heavy criticism for hosting the Trump fundraiser this month." Sources said that they "strongly discouraged Ross from participating in the event, knowing it would severely damage RISE’s efforts." Now, RISE leaders are "scrambling to assess what the long-term damage could be, and sources close to the organization said there will be a special meeting by early September." RISE will "have to work extremely hard to recapture the confidence of players" (SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/19 issue).
GIMME SYMPATHY: Ross and Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh have long had a personal relationship -- they both went to UM and Ross tried to hired Harbaugh to coach the Dolphins in '11 -- and Harbaugh is coming to Ross' defense after Ross hosted the Trump fundraiser. Harbaugh noted Ross has done "so much ... for so many across so many platforms, and now, he's just getting backlash." He added he congratulated Ross on Twitter for being inducted into the National Football Foundation HOF and received "backlash over that, for congratulating him." Former UM AD Dave Brandon said, "We're living in a time where the higher you put yourself in visibility in a leadership position, the more vulnerable you are. There's always going to be someone out there shouting, there's always some kid going to be in their underwear in their basement on Twitter and they're going to start some story." He added he "felt really bad" about all the criticism Ross has received. Brandon: "He is as generous and as patriotic a guy as you'd ever want to meet and he took a lot of grief over this thing, which is just too bad" ("Attack Each Day: The Harbaughs' Podcast," PodcastOne.com, 8/20).