By: Will Burchfield
The demonstrations may have only just begun.
After eight Lions players kneeled and the rest of the team locked arms during the national anthem on Sunday in defiance of Donald Trump’s recent comments about the NFL, Glover Quin said the protest would “probably” continue.
On Wednesday, Golden Tate said, “I do anticipate more happening.”
The Lions’ next chance to make a statement will come Sunday in Minnesota. It might entail kneeling, it might entail linking arms, it might entail something totally different. For Tate, the goal is to express unity.
“I definitely want to do something that shows the American people that we are together as an organization, as a city, as a state. One thing I don’t want it to do is to take away from our jobs, and that’s to show up and play football,” Tate said.
It’s a delicate balance. As much as Tate respects his duty as an athlete, so is he appreciative of the platform it provides.
“It’s important for us to stand up and use our voices and be as peaceful as possible. I do anticipate more happening. We’re going to collectively talk about it, what we can do, because we want to act as one. That’s the whole point of this,” said Tate.
Lions owner Martha Ford joined her team on the field during Sunday’s anthem. Several NFL owners did the same. On Monday, Jerry Jones linked arms and took a knee with the Cowboys before they all rose to their feet for the anthem.
“I think it’s so powerful when you see us all supporting each other, when you see the owners out there supporting us, supporting this movement,” said Tate. “And to be honest, I talk about it with my white friends, my Asian friends, my black friends, I think it’s more powerful when you see the white people supporting it because then it’s not a biased opinion. It’s like, okay, wrong is wrong.”
The Lions’ statement on Sunday was in protest of Trump’s comments, first and foremost. It was also about racial inequality, criminal justice and police brutality, the latter of which prompted Colin Kaepernick to take a knee — and start a movement — a year ago.
“I think what we’re doing is a very peaceful protest, it’s not hurting anyone,” said Tate. “In fact, we have people who are overseas right now fighting for our country who actually support it, who support Kaepernick and the unity that we’re showing. Honestly, we just want to see some change. That’s all we want.
“And we’re hurt. As people we are hurt that we look at the leader of our country and we feel like he does not give two craps about us. I’m glad it’s being talked about. In order for change, you have to feel uncomfortable.”
Tate understands some people are adamantly opposed to kneeling during the anthem. And he respects their right to that opinion. What frustrates him is when those people refuse to acknowledge the message behind the players’ action.
“To me, whether you stay in the locker room, you lock arms, you take a knee, I think as people we need to understand the ‘why.’ You can agree or disagree with what I’m doing, you’re allowed to have that opinion, but understand why,” Tate said.
“When you start attacking someone about it, like, ‘You dumb n-word,’ that’s when I think you’re ignorant,” he added.
Beyond making a statement on the field, Tate knows it’s important for the Lions to take substantive action. It is one thing to support a movement, quite another to advance it.
“The truth of the matter is it’s easy for us to go out there and lock arms and sit here and talk to you guys, but we need to go out and do something in the community,” said Tate, whose Golden Future Foundation supports the U.S. military. “We’ve had some great dialogue in this locker room between some of our leaders. We’re trying to figure out how we can do it.”
Tate said he has a “couple ideas,” but declined to share them with the media.
The players want to see change. They want to promote unity. They’ll continue to seek avenues toward both, and it’s a good bet the anthem will be involved.