Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has stepped down from his role on the NFL’s social justice committee, days after the billionaire real estate mogul drew heavy criticism for his decision to host a fundraiser for President Trump’s re-election campaign.
"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 [nonprofit] RISE," a Dolphins spokesman said in a statement obtained by ESPN. "He believes in and is still fully committed to the work that has been done by the group and will always be a passionate supporter and tireless advocate for social justice causes, the fight for equal rights and education."
Ross, 79, had been heavily involved in the league’s efforts to address social justice issues in the wake of a wave of player national anthem protests. When the NFL first announced a joint initiative between owners and players in January 2018, Ross, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwell were among the noteworthy participants.
Chris Long, a retired NFL defensive end and member of the Players Coalition, told Sports Illustrated that Ross was removed from the committee’s working group at the players’ behest. Long was responding to criticism from Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid, a close friend and supporter of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick who has publicly disapproved of the coalition’s efforts to affect change.
"The one thing I really disagree with Eric on is that the Coalition hasn't done anything," Long said. "The coalition is autonomous. We don't work for the owners. In fact, we just got Steven Ross to agree to be off of our working group. We can make decisions like that.”
A Dolphins representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Long’s remarks.
Ross’ decision to host a fundraiser for wealthy Trump donors in the Hamptons drew heavy criticism earlier this month, with some prominent celebrities calling on the public to boycott Equinox and SoulCycle. Ross’ firm is the parent company of the two fitness chains.