Mike Leach gives disappointing answer to question about NFL anthem protests

The widespread protests during the national anthem across the NFL Sunday has been the biggest topic in the sports world, and it spilled over into college football on Monday.

Several coaches were asked about the protests, including Washington State’s Mike Leach. Specifically, Leach was asked if he had talked to his team with protests increasing following President Trump’s comments Friday night where he called out players who have kneeled during the anthem.

Leach said he hasn’t talked to his team about it. In college football, teams remain in the locker room during the anthem anyway, he noted. But then Leach added that he isn’t sure why players are protesting in the first place.


“To me it’s not very clear what’s even being protested. I’ve never heard a real clear articulation of what’s being protested or what’s objected to, so I don’t know exactly the issue,” Leach said. “Me personally, I’m proud of this country and I would stand for the national anthem and respect the flag. But with that said I don’t know exactly what they’re objecting to and I’m anxious to hear what specifically it might be.”

Leach, for all of his quirks, is generally regarded as one of the more intelligent coaches in the country. Frankly, this answer is disappointing and bordering on willful ignorance.

The answers — police brutality and racial inequality — are right there in front of you if you look for them. The fact that Leach, who has a locker room full of young African-American men whose best interests he should have in mind, wouldn’t take the time to educate himself on the issues before speaking about it is really unfortunate.

Washington State head coach Mike Leach walks off the field during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Nevada in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

This isn’t even about whether you agree with the method of protest or not. Before forming an opinion, at least take the time to understand why certain people feel the way they do and are doing what they are doing.

In this case, these protests have been going on for over a year.

Maybe if the protests were about something that affects Leach, like sovereign immunity, he would take the time to understand “what’s being objected to.”

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!