DETROIT (WOOD/AP) — Detroit Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford released a statement responding to President Donald Trump’s comments on athlete protests.
The statement was posted around 9 a.m. Sunday on the team’s website:
“Our game has long provided a powerful platform for dialogue and positive change in many communities throughout our nation. Thanks primarily to our players, the NFL also has been a unifying force in our country and impactful change has and hopefully will continue to be the result of peaceful expression, done so in order to highlight social injustices of all kind. Negative and disrespectful comments suggesting otherwise are contrary to the founding principles of our country, and we do not support those comments or opinions.”
Prior to the Lions’ game against the Atlanta Falcons, Ford was seen linking arms with the team on the sidelines during the national anthem at Ford Field. Some Falcons players also knelt or locked arms with team members.
After belting out “brave,” Lions’ anthem singer Rico Lavelle bent to his knee, bowed his head and raised a fist.
Some fans booed at Ford Field during the actions.
Ford is among many NFL owners who have responded to Trump’s comments on players kneeling during the national anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,’” Trump said to loud applause Friday night at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama, comments he kept echoing over the next two days.
The president continued to speak on the issue Sunday morning, tweeting, “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”
Earlier, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodwell also released a statement on Trump’s comments, saying, “The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”