Detroit Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford released a statement in response to President Donald Trump's comments on recent NFL athlete protests during the playing of the national anthem.

The statement was posted to the Lions' website on Sunday, Sept. 24:

“Our game has long provided a powerful platform for dialogue and positive change in many communities throughout our nation.

“Thanks primarily to our players, the NFL also has been a unifying force in our country and impactful change has and hopefully will continue to be the result of peaceful expression, done so in order to highlight social injustices of all kind.

“Negative and disrespectful comments suggesting otherwise are contrary to the founding principles of our country, and we do not support those comments or opinions.”

President Trump recently criticized NFL players who protest during the playing of the national anthem -- and encouraged owners to "fire" players that do.

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April Stevens is a multi-platform producer at WZZM 13. Have a news tip? Email, visit our Facebook page or Twitter.