Detroit Lions player Golden Tate understands why some NFL fans are angry over National Anthem protests over racial inequality, but he wishes they would find less hateful words to express themselves.
Tate spent 40 minutes talking to reporters about the protests, which have become a political flashpoint after President Donald Trump personally attacked former player Colin Kaepernick over his demonstration against racism, reported the Detroit Free Press.
“There’s people who think it’s just completely unacceptable to kneel or to mess with the flag,” Tate said. “That’s your opinion, and I have no problem with any opinion. That’s your opinion. But when you start attacking someone about it, like, ‘You dumb N-word,’ or, ‘You’re an idiot’ — that’s when I think you’re ignorant.”
The wide receiver said he’s spent time trying to understand their viewpoint, and he asked angry fans to spend a moment trying understand the protesters.
“The real challenge is put your opinion aside and try to understand why, and that’s something that I do with other subjects where I just see something and I’m just like, ‘What are you doing?’” Tate told the newspaper.
His teammate, defensive tackle Akeem Spence, said the players had discussed the protests at length before they all locked arms with team owner Martha Ford in a show of defiance against Trump, as eight Lions kneeled.
“Us guys, we’ll talk about it here in the locker room and if we feel strongly enough about it, but it’ll probably be something that continues just because of what’s going on in our country, the injustice and everything like that,” Spence said.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders framed the president’s objection to the protests as simply “black and white,” in response to a questions about the feud’s racial undertones.
But Spence said racism was a moral issue to the players.
“It’s no disrespect to the American flag,guys just trying to bring it about,” Spence said. “It’s about right and wrong, like I always say, and what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. It’s no offense to nobody, no disrespect, just like I always tell people, love one another and we’ll be all right.”
Glover Quin, a Lions safety, called on fans to side with players against racism and police brutality — and ignore the president’s divisive language.
“Now, it’s turning more into unity, right?” Quin said. “But if you don’t have unity, how can you change that stuff? How can you change race relations if we’re not unified? If it’s blacks against whites against Mexicans, then it’s always going to be divided.”
“So you can’t change fundamental things if you’re not doing it together,” he added. “It’s just how it is. So it’s a lot of work, man. It’s a lot of work, and if nothing else, the conversations, the uncomfortableness, it has to continue. For any change to happen, you have to be made to feel uncomfortable.”