SPOKANE, Wash --- Washington State University head football coach, Mike Leach, said he does not really know why NFL players are protesting. Several Seattle Seahawks players had a few words for Leach after being asked about his comments.
“First of all, we’re in the locker room during the anthem, we’re together as a team. To me it’s not real clear what’s being protested…I haven’t heard a clear articulation of what’s protested or objected to. Me personally I’m proud of this country and would stand for the anthem and respect the flag. But with that said, I don’t know exactly what they’re objecting to,” said Leach.
Leach has also said he thinks racial inequality is a broad topic and is too big a topic to be protesting. At a press conference on Wednesday, Seahawks Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin, were asked about Leach’s comments.
“It’s crazy that inequality and racism is a broad brush that brushes across America every single day and he, as a white adult, probably doesn’t have to deal with it as much. So, it doesn’t seem as relevant to him, which is pretty incredible,” said Sherman.
Sherman also had a much sharper message for the WSU coach.
“Seeing as he’s going to have to recruit players of color to his university, I would think he would be more sympathetic,” said Sherman.
Ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the protest by kneeling for the national anthem last year. In an interview with the NFL last year Kaepernick said he would not stand to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. He went on to say this issue is bigger than football and it would be selfish of him to look the other way.
Baldwin is one of the players that agrees with Kaepernick. He said he thinks Leach should spend some time at the Seahawks practice facility with him to understand the issue.
“I don’t think he’s done his research. I would love to invite him to come down to Seattle Seahawks headquarters and have a conversation with me. And, we can go through the number of cases and details and information,” said Baldwin.
Baldwin talked about the death of Tamir Rice to try and give a strong example of something that was a catalyst in the beginning of the protest.
“Tamir Rice, 12-year-old kid shot and killed. I’ve been preaching since day one, empathy. And so first and foremost, I can understand the outrage of the parents. When I was 12-years-old, I was running around in my neighborhood, playing cops and robbers with my friends. We had toy guns.”
“If somebody called the police and said…, ‘there’s a young male riding around in my neighborhood and it looks like he has a gun.’ And the police respond to it. That’s an escalated situation already. As a 12-year-old kid and you’re in that situation, what do you do?” said Baldwin.
Baldwin continued to talk about the personal impact things like that can have on a person, a community or a country. Then, he brought it back to Leach.
“So, to Mike Leach, what do you do? You say, ‘Oh that’s just status quo. That’s just what happens.’ No, I think there’s a message there that things can be better. I don’t know what the solutions are but things can be better,” said Baldwin.
Baldwin wrapped up his statements with a reminder.
“I know the statistics say it’s way down (unarmed minorities killed by police). It’s not that many. Well, one is too many. And we may never get to zero, but why would we not try to get there,” said Baldwin.
Once Mike Leach gets an explanation for what exactly the protests are about, that he accepts, we will find out how he feels about what these players are doing.