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After leak, Miami Dolphins owner denies having plan to suspend national anthem protesters

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said the team has not decided how, or whether, players might be punished for protesting during the national anthem. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

The Miami Dolphins don't really have plans to suspend players who kneel during the national anthem, according to owner Stephen Ross, who contradicted a leaked document that said otherwise, USA Today reported.

Ross issued a statement Friday saying that a reference to punishing national anthem protesters was just placeholder language in the team's policy while they decide what they actually want to do about the issue.

"The one line sentence related to the national anthem was a placeholder as we haven't made a decision on what we would do, if anything, at this point," Ross said in the statement.

What's the story?

The Associated Press obtained a copy of a nine-page discipline policy and released it Thursday.

The policy place national anthem protests under the category of "conduct detrimental to the team," which carries a penalty of up to a four-game paid or unpaid suspension, a fine, or both.

Ross said the team was required to submit an overall discipline policy to the league, and the national anthem language was not a finalized portion of it.

"We were asked to submit a form to the NFL on our overall discipline policy prior to the start of the rookie report date," Ross said in his statement. "The one line sentence related to the national anthem was a placeholder as we haven't made a decision on what we would do, if anything, at that point."

What it would mean to his team

The quickness with which Ross insisted that he didn't have plans to suspend anthem protesters might have something to do with the fact that one of his best players, wide receiver Kenny Stills, protested during the national anthem last season.

Suspending such an important player for four games for not standing during the national anthem would likely be unpopular with many fans as well as detrimental to the team's success.

Stills, after the NFL announced it would require players on the field to stand during the national anthem, said he didn't know whether he'd continue protesting.

"We’ve got plenty of time," Stills said. "I think I’m gonna continue to do the work that I’ve been doing as far as being in the community and trying to lead and do things the right way and try to make change. When the time comes where I have to make a decision, I’ll make a decision."

Trump weighs in

President Donald Trump weighed in on the latest developments on Twitter on Friday, saying players should be suspended one game for their first time kneeling during the national anthem, and they should be suspended for the season without pay if they do it again.

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