A day after the Detroit Lions took time away from football to discuss and shed light on serious issues like racial injustice and police brutality, the stories they heard from their teammates continued to resonate as they returned to practice.
“Yesterday was just a time where we kind of took time to reflect as a team, come together and talk about the things that were going on over the weekend,” defensive end Romeo Okwara said Wednesday. “And we just kind of came together and said we couldn’t be numb to what’s going on outside the building anymore. We have to come together and kind of just express how we felt about it.
“And it was a great day to come together, and at the same time we still know we had to come back to work today. And that’s what we did today. We got back to work at practice.”
[ Lions were spark needed for athletes to protest en masse for social justice ]
Jahlani Tavai, a second-year linebacker, said he was amazed by the leadership that helped coalesce the team.
“It was unbelievable,” he said. “All I can say is it felt like a movie. It was so awesome that we stood united together and I’m really grateful that coach Matt Patricia gave us that platform to step out and bring awareness to what’s going on in our world.
“I’m glad that we have the leaders in our locker room who stood with us. Yeah, it’s just a really major blessing for us.”
For subscribers: Detroit Lions practice in rain, prepared for all scenarios:
Okwara said the decision for the team to skip practice Tuesday came as a result of meaningful discussions that stemmed from the incident that involved Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot by police Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“I guess after our conversations in the morning,” he said, “it didn’t really make sense if we were going to talk about not letting everything just go on normally we felt like we couldn’t go out there and make a statement and then just hop onto the practice field.
For subscribers: Lions stopped practice and spoke to the world; time to listen, like it or not
“It didn’t really feel right. So we felt like we had to take a bit to kind of reflect and talk as a team and just reflect on what’s going on.”
The Lions spoke publicly to reporters Tuesday outside their Allen Park facility and stood in front of a dry-erase board with two statements on it: “The world can’t go on!” and “We won’t be silent!!”
“I think it was all positive mostly,” Okwara said of public reaction. “You’re definitely going to get both sides. I mean everyone has an opinion on social media from behind the screen. But I think it was all positive.
“A lot of teams don’t really take time to do things like that. I thought it was really, really impressive and I was really proud of the way we got together yesterday and kind of came together and did that.”
Okwara and Tavai said the biggest takeaway they had and that they hope the public has about their actions Tuesday was the importance of listening to each other.
“It was really awesome to just stand there and listen,” Tavai said of the team’s discussions. “And that was the biggest thing a lot of people were trying to spread, that message where we just want people to listen. Not to listen to try to respond, but just sit there and listen and grasp everything that we’re trying to spread.
Contact Carlos Monarrez at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Lions content.