DETROIT >> Eight of the Detroit Lions took a knee on the sideline during the national anthem before kickoff today.
The rest of the team stood on the sideline with arms linked. In the center of the group was owner Martha Firestone Ford and her daughters. It is not usual for them to be on the field for the anthem.
Those who were kneeling were Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Tahir Whitehead, Ameer Abdullah, Steve Longa, Jeremiah Ledbetter, Akeem Spence, A’Shawn Robinson and Cornelius Washington.
Lions team president Rod Wood said before the game there will be no ramifications if players choose to protest during the anthem Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford issued a statement on Sunday morning:
“Our game has long provided a powerful platform for dialogue and positive change in many communities throughout our nation.
“Thanks primarily to our players, the NFL also has been a unifying force in our country and impactful change has and hopefully will continue to be the result of peaceful expression, done so in order to highlight social injustices of all kind.
“Negative and disrespectful comments suggesting otherwise are contrary to the founding principles of our country, and we do not support those comments or opinions.”
The reaction expected across the league today is due to Tweets from President Donald Trump on Saturday.
His first tweet: If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!
HIs second tweet: …NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.
Wood talked to Mrs. Ford, coach Jim Caldwell and the league office on Saturday.
“It’s unfortunate we’re talking about that and not football today, but I’m glad we got a statement out,’’ Wood said at an 11 a.m. press conference. “I know our players, they’re great guys, they’re great members of the community, they do great work every day and we just wanted to get something out to support them and get back to football.’’
He also had talked to Caldwell on Sunday morning. Caldwell has been consistent going back to last year that the players are free to do what they please.
“I don’t know anything that’s going to happen, I haven’t heard anything. I talked to coach last night, I talked to coach this morning I think the players know we support them we’ll see what they decide to do,’’ Wood said at 11 a.m.
Wood also confirmed the multi-year extension for JIm Caldwell.
“We wanted him back as our oah it got leaked out so we confirmed it,’’ Wood said. “It’s something Jim and we had talked about we decided not to make an announcement at the time.’’