Days after linking arms with players in a show of solidarity, Detroit Lions owner Martha Ford reportedly asked her team not to kneel during the singing of the national anthem.
Ford, 92, made the request during a team meeting last week, the Detroit Free Press reported, offering players monetary donations to the cause of their choice in exchange for them finding a different way to protest racial injustice.
“As a team, we came together, talked to Mrs. Ford, the owners, and we understand the issues, for the most part, generally,” running back Ameer Abdullah said. “Me personally, I definitely want to be an aid in growing the social awareness in this country, that it is a race problem in this country.”
“We do dance around the topic a lot and Mrs. Ford has come forward and said that as long as we compromise as a team and unify and make a unified demonstration, she will back us financially,” Abdullah added. “So I’m definitely going to hold her to her word.”
More than 200 NFL players and team owners refused to stand for the national anthem last month after President Donald Trump attacked players who kneeled in protest and urged the league to fire the “sons of b-tches” who do so. Former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick drew backlash when he first knelt during the 2016 season in an effort to speak out against racial injustice and police brutality in America.
The Detroit Free Press reported that Abdullah was one of eight players who took a knee during the anthem before their loss to the Atlanta Falcons last week. On Sunday, Sept. 1, linebackers Steve Longa and Jalen Reeves-Maybin were the only players to take a knee as the rest of the team stood and linked arms.
Ford wasn’t seen on the sidelines at this weekend’s game.
Some Lions players expressed satisfaction with the owner’s offer, saying the trade-off would be worthwhile if Ford was actually able to enact change in the community and on issues close to players’ hearts.
“As far as the kneeling, she just I guess felt like there was better ways to get the point across,” defensive end Cornelius Washington told the newspaper. “And at this point, people know what we’re kneeling for so now trying to take that next step in the plan of action to foster change is, that’s the next part and that’s the part she’s willing to get behind.”
“I don’t think it’s a cure-all kind of thing, but it’s a step in the right direction,” Washington added. “And then for somebody as powerful as her to say to come in and say she’ll stand up and she’ll back and put her name on whatever it is that we want to do, whatever it is that we want to attack, try to bring some real change about for the issues, to me that’s big.”