Lions respond to violent protests in Charlottesville

Posted at 8:23 PM, Aug 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-17 11:33:10-04

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (WXYZ) -- Running back Ameer Abdullah was one of multiple Lions players who spoke out Wednesday about the recent violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"What's most disheartening is people still try to make excuses for certain behaviors, especially people in positions of influence still making excuses," said Abdullah. "Specifically what happened in Virginia, so that's the most disheartening thing."

On the subject of people who feel members of the athletic community should just "stick to sports" instead of discussing matters involving politics or society, Abdullah defended his viewpoints.

"I am a citizen in this country, and a taxpayer and person in this country. So...I feel like what I have to say is important."

When asked about the events in Charlottesville, head coach Jim Caldwell told a personal story about a trip to a civil rights museum in Atlanta with his grandsons, featuring intense exhibits his oldest grandson called "scary."

"For us, growing up in the 1960s, obviously those things were part of our daily life in terms of what we witnessed on television," Caldwell explained. "And so I said, 'You know what, it's probably good for him to just get a sense of it,' not realizing that within his lifetime he's going to say some of the same things on television."

Both Caldwell and Abdullah emphasized a need for high-profile people to speak out against hatred and bigotry.

"I think the world can take a lot of what we do in sports," said Caldwell. "It's a highly diverse community. Guys get along from all walks of life, and there's no place in this game for bigotry and hatred."

"Not everybody is going to root for you - that's something that my dad voiced to me when I was really young," added Abdullah. "Not everybody is going to like you, and definitely if somebody doesn't like me about my stance on a situation -- especially when it comes down to racial issues -- then I don't really want that guy rooting for me anyway."