Matt Patricia hopes Lions demonstration keeps conversation going about social inequities

Detroit News

Allen Park — The Lions made an impression this week by canceling practice Tuesday and showing support for reform and discussion of the social inequities around the country.

It was another example of athletes using their platform to shed more light and bring attention to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and the other killings of Black citizens in recent months. Several sports leagues furthered the movement Wednesday, with the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA protesting their Game 5 of the NBA playoffs and the league postponing all three of its playoff games, imploring action from team owners.

Other leagues, including Major League Baseball, the WNBA and Major League Soccer also had games postponed Wednesday. It’s unclear what the long-term ripple effect will be.

In the Lions’ case, it was a missed practice, but would they go the next step of canceling a game to amplify their point? Coach Matt Patricia didn’t commit to anything, but he said  they’ll continue to monitor how things progress in an ever-changing social justice landscape.

“Part of what we do right now is really day by day,” Patricia said Thursday morning. “I think everything is moving at a fast pace and things are happening. For us, we try to stay as normal as possible in abnormal times. We certainly know that everything isn’t normal.

“So, day by day, we need to kind of make sure we’re all in a good place and we’re all just OK, ready to do whatever it is the team feels we need to do that day. So, there is a little bit of a maybe a daily check, I guess that’s the best way to put it.”

The Lions made a bold statement, but the bigger question is where the conversations go next — and more importantly, how to turn the talk into sustainable actions that can improve the conditions and bring more reform.

Patricia wasn’t ready to take credit for the Lions being trailblazers, but if their demonstration brought more attention to the inequities and made some people think about how they address the situation, he thinks they’ve succeeded in something.

“I think that if there’s any chance that maybe we got everybody to maybe stop and think for a minute, that was really, really great and the simple thing is just listen and right now that’s really what we just want everybody to do — is listen,” Patricia said. “We understand that this isn’t a sprint and it’s not a race; it’s a marathon, and it’s something that we just got to make sure we do a good job of continuing the conversation. 

“This team is special in that accord — it’s a great group of guys. They’re great leaders, they’re great teammates. and I just I appreciate that.”

It’s not clear what the next steps will be, but the Lions players want to be part of the discussion and the organization seems to support them in those efforts. There are concepts that they’ve considered, but formalizing those and getting buy-in on how to move forward isn’t as easy as the initial discussion.

“That’s obviously a big part of all the conversation, is trying to converse about what do we do next. We’re certainly trying to put ideas together. We have some ideas that we’re trying to put into action, and a lot of it is just making sure we do it the right way and trying to figure out a way that it’s impactful and that people continue to stop and think and have a conversation and listen to each other,” Patricia said. “I think if there was just one answer, I think all of us — any of us — would just do it.

“I think the really difficult part is that we just got to make sure that we don’t numb to anything and we continue to have the conversation; I think that’s the biggest part of it.”

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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