Detroit Lions players lock arms, some take knee during national anthem

Dave Birkett
Detroit Free Press
View Comments
Nov 24, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Patrons display the American flag on the field during the national anthem performed by Aretha Franklin before the game between the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field.

Detroit Lions owner Martha Ford and her three daughters stood with Lions players for the singing of the national anthem as part of a broad show of unison before Sunday's  game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Eight Lions players, including running back Ameer Abdullah, linebacker Tahir Whitehead and defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson, took a knee for the anthem, but joined their fellow players in linking arms before the game.

Ford, who joined arms with Lions coach Jim Caldwell at midfield, was one of several owners to take the field with players in a show of support against critical comments President Trump made about player protests over the weekend.

More Lions protests:

Detroit Lions president Rod Wood: 'We support the players' who protest

Lions owner Martha Ford responds to Trump's NFL protest comments

President Donald Trump wants NFL players fired for sitting for anthem

Trump said players who took a knee for the anthem should be fired.

Typically, Ford, who turned 92 last week, watches the anthem from her luxury box in Ford Field.

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank also joined his team on the field for the anthem before the game.

A contingent of Lions fans booed before the singing of the anthem, an act that appeared to be directed at the players taking a knee during the song. And Rico LaVelle, who sang the anthem, took a knee as he finished the song and held up his right first clenching the microphone.

Along with Abdullah, Whitehead and Robinson, Lions players Cornelius Washington, Akeem Spence, Jeremiah Ledbetter, Steve Longa and Jalen Reeves-Maybin knelt for the anthem.

Lions president Rod Wood said before Sunday's game that the organization would support any player who decides to protest during the anthem, and that no player would face repercussions for doing so.

"They’re all individuals," Wood said. "They’re entitled to their opinions and free speech is part of what this country is about, so whatever they decide to do is up to them and as I said, we support the players."

Most of the Lions' 53-man roster stood in a line in front of the Lions' bench area with their arms ajoined. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was part of the chain of players, and appeared to be locking arms with cornerback Darius Slay.

Tight end Eric Ebron stood alone behind the main row of players as well as a second row of team support staff.

Contact Dave Birkett: Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. Download our Lions Xtra app for free on Apple and Android!


View Comments