Detroit Lions Owner Promises Players She Will Donate to Community Issues If They Stand During National Anthem

Days after linking arms with players during the singing of the national anthem, Detroit Lions owner Martha Ford asked her team not to kneel for the playing of the song during a team meeting last week.

In exchange for finding a different way to protest racial injustices around the country, Ford said she would be willing to donate both money and her name to community issues at the heart of the players’ cause.

“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 a we compromise as a team and unify and make a unified demonstration, she’ll back us financially. So I’m definitely going to hold her to her word.”

Ford, who linked arms with players, Lions coach Jim Caldwell and her three daughters at Ford Field last week, was not on the sideline for the anthem Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, where the Lions played the Minnesota Vikings. The Lions did not immediately return a phone call from the Free Press seeking comment.

Abdullah was one of eight Lions players who took a knee for the singing of the national anthem before last week’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Only two of those players, linebackers Steve Longa and Jalen Reeves-Maybin, took a knee for the playing of the anthem Sunday, while the rest of the team linked arms on the sideline.

Longa’s father was struck by a car and killed last week. He kept his head down in prayer for the duration of anthem, and defensive end Cornelius Washington said “there were probably alternate reasons for” both Longa and Reeves-Maybin taking a knee.

“Those couple guys got some private stuff going on in their lives so that’s more than likely what it was,” Washington said.

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SOURCE: Detroit Free Press, Dave Birkett