Detroit Lions owner Martha Ford is offering her NFL players an incentive if they don’t join the #TakeAKnee protest. Instead, she prefers if they lock arms. And according to the Detroit Free Press, Ford promised players that if they do not kneel, she will donate to charities of their choice.
“As a team, we came together, talked to Mrs. Ford, the owners, and we understand the issues for the most part, generally,” said running back Ameer Abdullah, who was one of eight Lions to take a knee last week in their game against the Atlanta Falcons.
During a recent game, Ford, her three daughters and Lions coach Jim Caldwell joined the team in linking arms.
“Me personally,” Abdullah said, “I definitely want to be an aid in growing the social awareness in this country, that it is a race problem in this country.
Abdullah continued, “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.”
According to the players, Ford is with them in their protests, but believes that there are more effective ways to make change happen than kneeling at football games.
“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,” said defensive end Cornelius Washington.
Washington added, “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.”
The Lions didn’t provide an official comment to the Detroit Free Press, but it seems the team is weighing their options in order to put their efforts and money behind a cause as a team.
“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,” noted Abdullah. “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.”