Allen Park — NFL players kneeling in a form of protest during the national anthem appears to be reaching a tipping point.
Commissioner Roger Goodell penned a letter to all 32 teams Tuesday that said all players should stand during the anthem, and NFL owners are expected to consider changing league rules to enforce it when they meet next week.
“You knew that was going to happen at some point,” Lions safety Glover Quin said Wednesday. “But we’ll see what happens.”
The league’s current policy requires all players to be on the field for the national anthem, but there’s no rules governing how to observe it.
Lions receiver Golden Tate said he would be against a rule requiring that all players must stand, adding there must be a better resolution. He said he would also expect there to be some pushback from the NFL Players Association if such a mandate is enacted.
“I think there’s endless ideas and options you can do,” Tate said. “I just think some way you got to find, you got to agree on something that benefits both parties. I don’t think shutting off either party is going to be the right solution.”
Following President Donald Trump’s call that owners should fire any “son of a (expletive)” kneeling during the anthem two and a half weeks ago, Lions owner Martha Ford stood arm-in-arm with the team for the anthem in a sign of unity before a Week 3 game against the Falcons.
Eight Lions took a knee for that anthem, followed by two — defensive tackle Akeem Spence and rookie linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin — the next week at Minnesota. No Lions player took a knee prior to last weekend’s game against the Panthers.
Following the Week 3 protest, Ford asked the players to begin standing for the anthem. In exchange for their cooperation, she would donate to charities of their choosing.
According to Tate, the team has had several discussions with the leadership committee and are zeroing in on a cause.
“It’s amazing that Mrs. Ford and the Ford family are backing us and are going to support us,” Tate said. “This isn’t going to be a one-week thing or a half-a-season thing. This is going to be something that we’re going to be working at, for me, as long as we’re here. But we’re dialing in on a particular cause. It’s still being talked about and thought about.”
Across the league, the anthem protests have continued to be a hot-button issue for owners. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been outspoken on the subject, saying this past weekend any player who kneels on his team won’t play.
Now, Ford, Jones and the other owners could soon be voting on the matter.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell said if a rule requires all players to stand for the anthem then his team will abide by it.
“I’m not into policy making, that’s not my position,” Caldwell said. “The people that make the policy will look at it and make a determination on it. I’m concerned about my men doing what they’re supposed to do.”
Quin said regardless if a mandate is put in place or not, players will continue to find a way to get their message out.
“Well, I mean at the end of the day this is a business,” Quin said. “A lot of people look at it as a game. To the people on the inside, it’s a business. So as players we are employees and sometimes the bosses make you do things and you have decisions to make.”