By Ryan Velez
The recent flurry of NFL protests has drawn attention not only to the power of protest but the consequences of those who choose to stand out. While the spotlight means we are unlikely to see direct reprisal against the players who have chosen to protest, some are already seeing the consequences. The Detroit Free Press reports that one Detroit Lions player says his father was passed over for a job specifically due to his on-field protests.
Lions defensive tackle Akeem Spence tweeted Thursday that his father, Floyd, was denied a job by a contractor. "Got some awful news from my father a contractor deny giving him a job on doing a house because of my peaceful protest #smh," Spence tweeted. The elder Spence did not provide a comment, and Akeem’s agent said he was looking to keep a low profile.
Spencer was one of eight Lions players who took a knee while linking arms with most of the rest of their teammates and owner Martha Ford during the playing of the national anthem before their game against the Atlanta Falcons two Sundays ago. Several teams took a similar stance that weekend in a trend that almost superseded the games themselves. Spence asserted that protesting during the anthem was not about disrespecting the flag.
"It’s about right and wrong, like I always say," Spence said. "And what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. It’s no offense to nobody, no disrespect, just like I always tell people, love one another and we’ll be alright." He added that the team had also met to determine the form that their protests should take moving forward. "But it’ll probably be something that continues just cause of what’s going on in our country, the injustice and everything like that," he said. Spence was joined by running back Ameer Abdullah, linebackers Tahir Whitehead, Steve Longa and Jalen Reeves-Maybin, and defensive linemen Cornelius Washington, A'Shawn Robinson and Jeremiah Ledbetter.
Along with the protests, Spence said it was important for players to find ways to help their communities. "It’s important," he said. "It’s an issue that we can’t turn a blind eye to. It’s something that needs to be talked about and something needs to be done about it. You just take – that was a major step, I’d say, when you have your owners, Jerry Jones and those guys coming out and just supporting their team. Now, it’s a light being shined on the injustice and everything going on."