Stills criticizes Jay-Z: He's never been on a knee

DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills, who has been on the front line of the NFL player protest movement since 2016, expressed disdain about how hip-hop mogul Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter went about forming a social justice partnership with the league.

Stills specifically mentioned the role kneeling during the national anthem still plays in this movement, as a way to bring awareness to social justice issues.

When discussing NFL player protests while seated beside commissioner Roger Goodell at a news conference last week in New York, Carter said, "We've moved past kneeling and I think it's time to go into actionable items."

Stills said he wishes Carter would have reached out to him or Colin Kaepernick, the leader of the player protest movement, to be better informed.

"Some of the ways he answered his questions, talking about we're moving past kneeling, like he ever protested. He's not a NFL player. He's never been on a knee," Stills said. "Choosing to speak for the people like he had spoken to the people. ... I wonder how many common people that he knows or has spoken to. I wonder if he's read my Facebook comments or my Instagram comments or some of the things people say to me. To say we're moving past something, it didn't seem very informed."

Stills is one of three players, along with Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid and Dolphins receiver Albert Wilson, who continue to kneel during the anthem to bring awareness to police brutality, systematic oppression and social injustice.

"I felt like [Carter] really discredited Colin and myself and the work that's being done in our communities," said Stills, who has been the Dolphins' two-time Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee due to the work he does in the community.

"What's fueling everything now is division. I wish it was handled in a different way."

Last week, the NFL announced that Jay-Z's Roc Nation will serve as the league's official live music entertainment strategists. Their planning duties will include halftime of the Super Bowl, and a core component of the partnership centers on amplifying the NFL's Inspire Change platform. They aim to seek change through criminal justice reform, improving police-community relations, and education and economic advancement.

Carter has been a public supporter of Kaepernick throughout the process and an important voice in the black community. For some, this partnership signaled a step in the right direction for the NFL, but Stills questions the intentions behind it.

"They've done a good job shifting the problem onto Roc Nation and Shawn Carter's shoulders instead of themselves," Stills said.

Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, a prominent member of the NFL Players Coalition, supported Carter's deal with the league on Monday.

"To sit across from billionaires and talk about issues and why they should be important and why the NFL should be highlighting them, I think having somebody like Jay-Z, who can add to that conversation, who does these things on a daily basis and has a history of doing those things, helps us as players to have an ally like that. So I'm looking forward to seeing what that turns into," Jenkins said.

Over the weekend, Reid gave his opinion on the partnership. He disagreed with it, and he raised more eyebrows by saying it was "kind of despicable" to see a TMZ report that Carter was in line to potentially become a part-owner of an NFL team after the partnership.

"I understand his frustration. A lot of what I'm trying to do is bring people together, so I'm not going to personally go that route. But I understand when people do go that route," Stills said. "I'm looking for solutions, and I'm going to try and give this man the benefit of the doubt for now, but it doesn't sit right with me. It's not something that I agree with. It's not something that I respect."

Even through clear disagreement, Stills seems willing to give Carter a chance to prove his actions will be genuine and not just capitalistic. He mentioned he would like to have a conversation with Carter if the opportunity arises.

Stills called out Dolphins owner Stephen Ross two weeks ago. Stills couldn't reconcile Ross holding a fundraiser for President Donald Trump at his home while running a nonprofit with a goal of fighting racism and social injustice. Ross said he could oppose racism and still support his friend Trump. Stills was adamant that Ross couldn't play both sides. They eventually talked about it on the phone and agreed to disagree.

ESPN's Tim McManus contributed to this report.