When the Detroit Lions called off practice last week to spend the day protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake, it made one of the higher-ups at the NFL office swell with pride.
“I was proud and happy to see that the organization, from Rod Wood, Sheila (Ford), Coach (Matt) Patricia, the players, they had a unified effort that today was a day that they were not going to do normal work activities,” NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent said of the Aug. 25 demonstrations.
Vincent — who played 15 NFL seasons and now ranks as one of the league’s chief decision-makers — has a special affinity for the Lions given that his son-in-law, DeAndre Levy, played eight seasons for the team and was deeply involved with social justice issues during his career.
Levy and his wife, Desire, still live in Detroit and remain actively involved in the community.
The Lions canceled practiced last week, two days after Blake was shot at least seven times by Kenosha, Wisconsin police, and spent the morning discussing ways to stop police brutality before demonstrating as a team in front of their practice facility.
Their protest led other NFL teams to cancel practice, and the NBA, WNBA, NHL and MLB to postpone some games.
“To see the players come together and just talk about change, and some tangible things that need to be done, and Detroit’s been one of those cities that’s been ravaged with brutality and police brutality over time,” Vincent said. “But it was a very proud moment for myself to see that, and it was contagious. And it began the conversations, again, the continued conversations that you have to have from club ownership to the president to the GM to the head coach in each and every locker room because they’re not going anywhere.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Tuesday the phrases “End Racism” and “It Takes All of Us” will be stenciled in end zones at stadiums across the league this fall.
Vincent acknowledged the possibility that NFL players could sit out Week 1 games in an extended protest.
“They all have the choice, the individual choice and right to either sit out or protest,” he said.
“The work started in 2014 with Michael (Brown), ‘Hands up, don’t shoot,'” Vincent said. “And that progression from ’14 to today, cause there’s been a lot of work that’s been done, but we still keep seeing this same image play out on television of unarmed Black men being shot down. The players want to see us leveraging Washington, our governmental affairs office — cause these are all, most are local issues. … And that’s what they want to see, that’s what you hear. That’s been consistent. You hear pain, frustration, but that is the area of focus that they want us to really focus in.”
Lions awarded veteran DT
The Lions were awarded defensive tackle Albert Huggins off waivers from the Houston Texans on Tuesday. Last year, Huggins spent time with the Texans, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.
Contact Dave Birkett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.