MIAMI GARDENS, Fla., Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Coach Brian Flores spoke to Miami Dolphins star Kenny Stills after the wide receiver criticized team owner Stephen Ross in a tweet for hosting a fundraiser in the Hamptons for for President Donald Trump.
"[Flores] said to remain focused on the game and don't let this stuff become a distraction to our team," Stills said.
Stills voiced his disapproval of Ross' planned fundraising event Wednesday on Twitter. He addressed his comment after the Dolphins' preseason win against the Atlanta Falcons Thursday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
"My thoughts really haven't changed. The tweet is what it is. I said what I said," Stills said.
Stills criticized Ross by tweeting the the owner can't run his non-profit -- Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality -- and open his doors to Trump. He also tweeted a screenshot of the mission statement from the foundation, which describes itself as "a national nonprofit that educates and empowers the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve race relations."
Ross is to host Trump on Friday in Bridgehampton, Long Island, for an event raising money for his reelection. The Dolphins owner later released a statement in response to Stills' tweet, saying he has known Trump for 40 years, but he doesn't agree on everything with the President.
Stills is one of the most philanthropic players on the Dolphins and has worked with the RISE initiative. He said he now tries to distance himself from RISE.
"I respect the work that they've done, but it's just the things aren't aligning for me, so I try to stay away from it," Stills said.
The Dolphins wide receiver said he did not speak to Ross before sending the tweet. The tweet has nearly 30,000 interactions, including thousands of comments. Many Twitter users supported Stills, while others said they hope he gets released or traded from the team.
The Dolphins also received criticism after Still began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality, following the lead of Colin Kaepernick.
SoulCycle and Equinox -- subsidiaries of Ross' Related Cos. -- released statements saying they do not support Ross' fundraiser for President Trump. The NFL Players Association said it supports Stills for using his platform for "good."
Stills said he wants to remain with the franchise and he isn't "against Mr. Ross."
"I'm just trying to inform him that the two things don't align," Stills said. "I don't think it's that complicated. I don't have any hard feelings toward him. There's no beef. It's just, hey, these two things don't align and maybe somebody else hasn't told you, but I'm letting you know.
"It's important to me that the work that we're doing isn't just lip service. It's real. Everything that I do has been real from the very beginning, and it's going to continue to be that way. So, I just wanted to let him know that's where I'm coming from and how I feel."
Stills said he is trying not to be a distraction for his teammates and doesn't think he has been one.
"The one thing I said to Kenny was -- I understand kind of where Kenny is coming from," Flores said. "He wants to be a voice. I talked to him about that a couple of weeks ago. I understand him wanting to be a voice for people who don't have a voice. I respect that.
"In my conversation with Kenny, I asked him why he didn't talk to the owner, why he didn't talk to Steve [Ross] first before putting something out. And I think that's something that we have to do more of. There's got to be more communication, more conversation, more communication if we want to really make change. And I wish he would have done that. I told him that."
Stills, 27, took a knee on the sideline during the national anthem before Thursday's game, continuing the protest in the same fashion he has for the last several seasons. The six-year veteran has a base salary of nearly $8 million in 2019 after signing a four-year, $32 million contract with the Dolphins in 2017.