Much has been said about the Houston Texans acquiring Laremy Tunsil, but quietly acquiring Kenny Stills in the same trade could prove to have a bigger impact.
In his debut with the Houston Texans, Kenny Stills caught what would have been the game-winning touchdown if not for quarterback Drew Brees and his late-game heroics. Meanwhile, in the Week 3 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, he led the team with 89 receiving yards. For a player that was seen as an add-in, he has already made an impact in his first three games.
It was no surprise to see that the Miami Dolphins were willing to part ways with Stills after the incidents that occurred between the receiver and the front office. It is, however, a bit of a surprise to see that the Texans were willing to bring in a player with such a strong stance and willingness to speak out on hot button issues.
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A few seasons ago, the Texans traded Duane Brown after a contract holdout that went into the season, but not before Brown spoke out after controversial comments made by the late owner Bob McNair that he and his teammates found to be disrespectful.
DeAndre Hopkins recently spoke out on the issue and how he nearly skipped the game following the comments that were made. Along with stating that he felt that McNair was a good man, McNair’s different upbringing may have influenced his comments.
Stills himself has been surrounded by what is the most controversial and divisive topic in sports today. After Colin Kaepernick initially decided to kneel due to racial inequality and police treatment of minorities, Stills felt compelled to join the protest. Stills continues to protest by kneeling during the national anthem.
While McNair has passed, the comments that were made are still attached to the franchise. So to see the Texans were willing to acquire a player who was not only outspoken but still currently protesting, was a bit of a surprise.
I don’t bring these things up to try to poke at or open old wounds, but I bring them up to say that this is a great step for a team that may not be seen as supportive of their players and their views. It also may be naive of me to assume that the Texans weren’t just adding a player to provide depth at a position they’ve had injury concerns. Either way, the Texans knew Stills was adamant about continuing to speak out and decided he was worth adding to the roster.
If you were to look through social media or any story on the topic of protesting or kneeling, you’ll see comments accusing players of wanting attention and not trying to change anything. Stills isn’t either of those things.
Stills’ protest is not only about taking a knee before games. That action is just a symbol of the change he is working to enact wherever he can. Stills was very active in the Miami community and has already taken steps toward creating a relationship with the Houston Police Department.
Texans head coach Bill O’Brien has also gone on record in his support of Stills’ decision to protest. That declaration, along with the team bringing in Stills at all, could help to mend whatever wounds may exist in the locker room. It could also help to change any negative image that may exist about playing in Houston.
Stills ranks third among active receivers with 16.1 yards per catch and that big-play ability has benefited the Texans. As mentioned, he has also shown his efforts to affect the community in his short time in the city by meeting with police to find ways to enact change.
The Texans’ willingness to add Stills and make him a contributor in the offense shows that they not only recognize his ability but are also supportive of his choice to speak for what he believes in.
Recent events have seen players’ actions to find themselves without jobs and can reflect poorly on the public image of athletes. Stills’ actions may ruffle some feathers, but he is doing what he feels is right and not hurting anyone in the process.
While you may not agree with his method or his views, you should at least respect that Stills has the conviction to maintain his stance despite many detractors. The Texans and the city are lucky to have Stills, whether he catches another pass or not.