Dear Kenny Stills,

It seems like only yesterday that you were traded to the Dolphins from the New Orleans Saints. I remember getting excited about your potential when the Dolphins picked you up in March of 2015 because I saw the highlights when you were with the Saints. Man, you were fast, and you put up some great numbers during your final season with the team. What I didn’t realize was everything you did off the field.

Upon your trade to the Houston Texans, I wanted to share my appreciation for what you did during your tenure with the Miami Dolphins. And, since I couldn’t show my appreciation during the last training camp session, when you were taking pictures and signing autographs with fans, I wanted to share my thoughts.

First, thank you for your production while with the Dolphins. Over the four seasons with the Fins, you caught the ball 164 times for 24 touchdowns and 2,566 yards is certainly significant. I would imagine that a wide receiver’s success sometimes depends on the quarterback’s skill. Having Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, Jay Cutler, David Fales, and Brock Osweiler chucking the balls in your direction may have had something to do with your final production numbers or lack thereof.

Second, and perhaps more important, I want to thank you for what you did for the South Florida community and how you carried yourself as a professional football player, a mentor, and a role model to others.

I began following your community work when you first protested during the 2016 week 1 singing of the Star-Spangled Banner. Although I knew that Colin Kaepernick had started protesting, I did not have a full understanding of what the purpose behind the demonstrations were. Thanks to you, I now understand that you were calling attention to social injustices throughout our country.

I was impressed at your persistence, courage, and integrity. During that season, many other players were intimidated and pressured to stop their protests, which they did. You chose to continue through the 2016 season as well as the following two seasons.

More impressive than the protests were your involvement in the community. While other players were spending time with their families and friends during the offseason, you chose to travel the southern states to understand the work being done in the fight for equality and social justice. You chose to support what you were demonstrating by traveling to learn more about the issues. In addition, your ride-alongs with community police agencies helped you to understand the challenges faced by law makers, police officers and community citizens. Your demonstrations were followed by real, tangible actions.

Unfortunately, many people are not able to overcome their discomfort with your protests during the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner. Many people associate your demonstration as being anti-American, anti-military, or disrespectful to the flag. After listening to your explanations and observing your actions, I understand that your protests were not for any of those reasons. There are several veterans who have stated that they served our country in order to allow for people to peacefully protest, which you have done. I understand that your protests were to bring attention to social injustice throughout our country. Some would argue that there is very little that is MORE American and respectful to the flag and to the American way of life than peaceful protest.

Lastly, I want to thank you for typically being the last person to leave autograph sessions during fan opportunities. Through personal experience, I know you were always sure that any fan wanting a photograph, or an autograph would get one. Not every player is so generous with their time and energy, especially in 95-degree Florida heat.

The Houston Texans are lucky to have you on their team. Not only for what you’ll be doing on the field, but also for what you’ll be doing off! Thank you for your commitment to doing what is right, thank you for being a model community advocate, and thank you for your service with the Miami Dolphins!

Thank you, Kenny! Good luck and Fins Up!

Ian (Big E)