Detroit Lions owner Martha Ford reportedly asked players on her team not to kneel during the national anthem as a way of protesting police brutality and racial inequality.
"In exchange for finding a different way to protest racial injustices around the country, Ford said she would be willing to donate both money and her name to community issues at the heart of the players' cause," Birkett wrote.
According to Birkett, eight Lions knelt during the anthem before their Week 3 loss to the Falcons and two (linebackers Steve Longa and Jalen Reeves-Maybin) knelt during the song before Sunday's victory against the Minnesota Vikings. The rest of the players linked arms.
"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 said. "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."
Abdullah continued: "We do dance around the topic a lot and Mrs. Ford has come forward and said that as long as 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."
The idea of kneeling during the anthem as a method of protesting police brutality and racial inequality first took hold last season when Colin Kaepernick did so as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. While he is now a free agent, a number of players took the same action in Week 3 after President Donald Trump made headlines speaking at a rally in Alabama.
The sitting president—who has also made a habit of continuously tweeting about the issue—suggested NFL owners, such as Ford, should "get that son of a bitch off the field right now" if someone knelt during the anthem.
On the field, the Lions beat the Vikings during Sunday's contest to move to 3-1 in the early going. They are tied with the Green Bay Packers atop the NFC North and will look to continue their momentum in Week 5 against the Carolina Panthers.