In the leadup to the Detroit Lions’ 2020 season opener against the Chicago Bears, the team’s Twitter account took a few moments to bring attention to issues outside of football.
A string of tweets accompanied by #WeWontBeSilent dotted timelines just before 6 p.m. Saturday. Each contained a photo of a word or phrase written on the back of individual Lions player’s helmets.
For example, Tracy Walker III and Justin Coleman selected the name Ahmaud Arbery to appear on their headgear. Each man talked about his relationship with Arbery, a Black man shot in February by white vigilantes who suspected him of burglary. No stolen items were recovered from Arbery, and his death sparked national outcry as the shooter did not face charges from Georgia authorities for more than two months after the killing.
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“Ahmaud was my cousin, and I wanted to represent him and everything he stood for, such as happiness, laughter and putting smiles on people’s faces,” the message read. Walker and Arbery were teammates growing up and Walker has called Arbery his cousin.
Coleman, who was raised in the same town as Arbery, called him a friend, brother and teammate.
Others made more general statements. A helmet bearing the words “It takes all of us” was adjacent to a note from quarterback Matthew Stafford.
“This is an issue everyone needs to be involved in. We need the best of each other now more than ever,” the note read.
Trey Flowers’ message was displayed below the words “Stop hate.”
“Love is natural, hate is taught. If it is taught, it can be untaught,” it reads.
You can see more helmets and quotes here. The Lions have been one of professional sports’ more vocal teams about social justice and inequality following a string of police killings involving Black people.
The Lions canceled a practice to talk about the Jacob Blake shooting last month, setting off a chain of protests that disrupted the NBA and NHL playoffs and postponed MLB contests.
Walker III said another demonstration is likely when Detroit hosts the Bears at 1 p.m. Sunday at Ford Field.
“I feel like you won’t know until the game comes,” Walker said.
One thing seems clear though: The Lions aren’t going to be silenced anytime soon.
Follow the Free Press on Facebook and Twitter for more news. Tyler Davis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TDavisFreep.
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