Talk about quid pro quo. Although Detroit Lions owner Martha Ford linked arms with her players during the playing of the national anthem last week (after President Donald Trump disparaged the players days earlier by saying that they should be “fired” if they kneel during the song), Ford, a 92-year-old billionaire, asked her team not to kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a team meeting last week, the Detroit Free Press reports.
In exchange for not kneeling, according to the Free Press, Ford said that she would donate money to community issues and organizations close to the players’ hearts.
“She just asked us not to take the knee and basically told us—not basically, she told us—she would back and support financially as well as put her name on whatever issues that we wanted to try to attack,” Lions defensive end Cornelius Washington said.
“But as far as the kneeling, she just, I guess, felt like there was better ways to get the point across,” he added. “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.”
Running back Ameer Abdullah, who, along with Washington, was one of eight players who knelt during a game against the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 24, said: “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’ll back us financially. So I’m definitely going to hold her to her word.”
Of those eight, only two knelt before the game against Minnesota on Sunday, while the rest of the team linked arms on the sideline. Defensive tackle Akeem Spence, who said that his father lost a contract job over his son’s decision to take a knee last week, was among the players who stood Sunday.
The Freep reports that Abdullah and Washington said players have not yet decided how they want to distribute whatever resources Ford makes available.
“Me and a lot of teammates are … thinking up some things we can do to be more active in the community to bridge this racial disconnect in a lot of areas,” Abdullah said. “Not just the police department, not just here or there, [but] a lot of different fronts we’re going to attack here. And we have her support, so as long as we have that little pact between us that we’re going to demonstrate in a manner that’s more unified as a team and she has our financial support, we’re going to do so.”
So does this mean that no Detroit players will kneel against racial injustice for
30 pieces of silver donations to charitable organizations? Seriously, is this pragmatism or being bought off?
Read more at the Detroit Free Press.