"The Lions and Martha Ford can make a considerable difference in the escalation of our protest by making a statement and supporting their players," said the National Action Network's Rev. Charles Williams II who stood outside Ford Field Friday, promising to protest home games if the Lions organization doesn't oppose the NFL's new policy requiring players to stand during "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Kayla Kennard, President of Wayne State University's NAN chapter, told 7 Action News that problems that include gun violence and police brutality are "public issues" that require a "public redress."
"I am saddened that Freedom of Speech which is a constitutional protection, is challenged by the National Football League. I thought that the NFL was supposed to be a standard bearer of American values. Protest is as American as apple pie. We will intensify our support for the players," said Williams.
In a short statement, a spokesperson for the Lions told 7 Action News that they "are deferring all anthem inquiries to the NFL's statement from earlier this week."
The following statement is from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:
The policy adopted today was approved in concert with the NFL's ongoing commitment to local communities and our country -- one that is extraordinary in its scope, resources, and alignment with our players. We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.
The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed. The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honored to work with our players to drive progress.
It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.
This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed.
We believe today's decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it -- and on our fans who enjoy it.
The 32 member clubs of the National Football League have reaffirmed their strong commitment to work alongside our players to strengthen our communities and advance social justice. The unique platform that we have created is unprecedented in its scope, and will provide extraordinary resources in support of programs to promote positive social change in our communities.
The membership also strongly believes that:
1. All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
2.The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the anthem.
3. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the anthem has been performed.
4. A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
5. Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
6. The commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.