Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins deny avoiding protest players
Last Updated: 06/03/18 11:54pm
The Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins have rejected reports they would avoid signing players who kneeled during the American national anthem.
A report in the Houston Chronicle on Saturday claimed the Texans were adopting an unofficial policy of not considering free agents who had taken part in protests, but the franchise have condemned the reports as "categorically false and without merit".
In a statement, the Texans said: "A recent report that suggests the Houston Texans would not sign a player who has protested in support of social justice issues is categorically false and without merit.
"The Texans ownership, coaching, personnel and executive staff sign and hire employees based on talent, character and fit within our organisation."
Meanwhile, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross appeared to suggest on Monday that kneeling would not be tolerated at the franchise.
Ross told the New York Daily News: "All of our players will be standing."
However, he backtracked on Tuesday and insisted that his comments had been "misconstrued" but conceded that he believes kneeling is an ineffective form of protest.
"I have no intention of forcing our players to stand during the anthem and I regret that my comments have been misconstrued," Ross said in a statement.
"I've shared my opinion with all our players. I'm passionate about the cause of social justice and I feel that kneeling is an ineffective tactic that alienates more people than it enlists."
The NFL Players Association said in a statement: "Our union is proud of all of our players whenever they express themselves for a bigger purpose.
"During the past season, we received assurances from both commissioner Roger Goodell and the chairman of the management council, John Mara, that the right of players to demonstrate would be protected.
"We are glad that both the Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins have clarified their positions to be consistent with what was confirmed with our union leadership, and we expect all other NFL teams to maintain the same commitment to protecting those rights."
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 in protest at perceived racial injustice and police brutality.
A number of NFL players have since protested, leading to talks between franchise owners and league officials and drawing criticism from US President Donald Trump.