Lions fan who posted racist rant forfeits season tickets

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — The Detroit Lions have taken swift and decisive action against a season-ticket holder who posted a racially charged video on social media directed at a pair of fans who sat through the national anthem prior to last Sunday’s game at Ford Field.

After an investigation, including a conversation with the person who posted the video, he has forfeited his season tickets.

The video, posted on Snapchat, had a voiced-over suggestion that the sitting fans leave the country. The photo was captioned “stupid (expletive).”

Team president Rod Wood told The Detroit News he would be reaching out to the fans who were captured in the social-media post.

In an interview with WXYZ on Tuesday, Stacey Graham, one of the fans in the video, said she’s been sitting out the national anthem since last season because of disagreements with the lyrics of the anthem’s third verse.

Here is the third verse:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore;
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion;
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave;
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave;
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Multiple Lions players, when asked, were pleased with the resolution of the matter.

“People should be able to do what they want to do,” safety Glover Quin said. “If they want to stand up, sit down (for the national anthem), people have their choice, their freedom. No type of racism, in my opinion, should be tolerated."

Linebacker Tahir Whitehead, one of the team’s most vocal voices on social media regarding social issues, said he doesn’t understand why people can’t respectfully disagree on issues.

“Some people are more closed-minded than others, and feel stuff outside their norm they need to speak out on it and their course of action is hate,” Whitehead said. “It’s all about how you respond.”

Lions coach Jim Caldwell praised the team’s investigative process.

“We do have a fan behavior standard, a code of standards, and I think, without question, our organization followed up, found out who the individual was and he no longer has season tickets in our stadium,” Caldwell said. “I think it was handled appropriately, and those things happen sometimes.”

Prior to acknowledging the forfeiture of the tickets, the Lions initially pointed those inquiring about the incident to the stadium’s conduct policy.

The policy threatens revocation of tickets for a number of actions, including the display of inconsiderate or otherwise inappropriate behavior toward others and using foul or abusive language or obscene gestures.

In 2014, the Lions banned a fan from Ford Field for shining a laser pointer at the opposing quarterback during a game. Marko Beslach ultimately pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to 80 hours of community service and a $235 fine.

The Lions aren’t officially banning the fan from the most recent incident, largely because the action is impractical, Wood said. But, he points out, the fan is not welcome at future events at Ford Field.