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Lions Owner Martha Ford Asked Players Not to Kneel for Anthem

In exchange for not kneeling, Ford told players she'd donate money to causes they care about in the community.

Lions owner Martha Ford asked her players not to kneel during the national anthem before the team's game against the Vikings on Sunday. In exchange for not kneeling, Ford told players she would donate money to causes they care about in the community, reports the Detroit Free Press

“As a team, we came together, talked to Mrs. Ford, the owners, and we understand the issues for the most part, generally," running back Ameer Abdullah, who kneeled during the anthem last week, told the Free Press. "Me personally, I definitely want to be an aid in growing the social awareness in this country, that it is a race problem in this country.

"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."

Abdullah was one of eight Lions to kneel before Detroit's loss to the Falcons in Week 3, when protests were widespread across the NFL after Donald Trump said owners should "fire" players who protest during the anthem. Ford linked arms with players during the anthem, and was joined in doing so by her three daughters. 

Two Lions did indeed kneel during the anthem on Sunday: linebackers Steve Longa and Jalen Reeves-Maybin. Longa's father was killed in a car accident in last week, and he kept his head down in prayer throughout the anthem. 

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Those couple guys got some private stuff going on in their lives so that’s more than likely what it was," defensive end Cornelius Washington told the Free Press.

"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."

Ford has been the Lions' acting owner since 2014, when her husband William Clay Ford died. 

The Lions beat the Vikings 14-7 to move to 3-1 and tie the Packers for first place in the NFC North.