Several Detroit Lions players chose to kneel during the national anthem prior to their Week 3 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.
This was the first time that any Lions players have made any sort of statement during the pregame ritual since Colin Kaepernick first kneeled during the preseason of the 2016 season.
The movement comes on the heels of a statement made by President Donald Trump during a rally in Alabama on Friday night. “Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired! He's fired!” Trump said.
Since Trump’s comments on Friday, he has continued to speak on Twitter against NFL players and owners who support their protests:
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country.Tell them to stand!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
Lions owner Martha Ford was among many NFL owners who spoke up against Trump’s comments, voicing her support for her players’ rights to express themselves. “Our game has long provided a powerful platform for dialogue and positive change in many communities throughout our nation,” Ford said in a statement on Sunday morning. “Negative and disrespectful comments suggesting otherwise are contrary to the founding principles of our country, and we do not support those comments or opinions.”
Here’s a list of players that were kneeling:
Lions players kneeling Cornelius Washington, A'Shawn Robinson, Akeem Spence, Jeremiah Ledbetter, Steve Longa, Ameer Abdullah, Whitehead, JRM— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) September 24, 2017
Others, including owner Martha Ford and Matthew Stafford, chose to lock arms in a show of solidarity instead.
Editor’s note: I am closing comments for this article during the Lions game, as I won’t be able to diligently moderate while the action is happening. Once the game is over, I will open comments for this article back up.