Martha Ford asked Lions not to kneel, promised to back players' agenda

Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Football

Prior to the Falcons game on Sept. 24, no Detroit Lions players had taken part in protests during the national anthem over the past year, team officials said. Hours before that game, team president Rod Wood said the Lions' top management would support anyone who might feel the urge to protest.

Abdullah and Washington said Sunday the trade-off in following Ford's request not to kneel will be worthwhile if she can help them have a more direct impact on problems within the community.

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"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," Washington said. "But as far as the kneeling, she just I guess felt like there was better ways to get the point across. 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."

Both Abdullah and Washington said players have not decided how they want to commit whatever resources Ford makes available for them in the community.

"I don't think it's a cure-all kind of thing, but it's a step in the right direction 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," Washington said.

"Me and a lot of teammates are conjugating and 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. 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."

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