Young Kwak/Associated Press
Stanford coach David Shaw thinks there could “potentially” be some protests during the national anthem in college football this season.
“I think we are in a different place right now as a nation than we were a few years ago with Colin Kaepernick,” he told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic.
Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem during the 2016 NFL season to protest racial injustice and police brutality. He was widely criticized—including by the president—and since becoming a free agent in 2017, he hasn’t been signed.
Protests have emerged the past few weeks after George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis. Athletes have said they will kneel when their seasons resume, including some college football players like those at Iowa.
Though Shaw said he wouldn’t kneel, he would be supportive of players on his team who protest before or during games:
“I would. And this conversation came up when Colin Kaepernick started his protests. And I’ve been very consistent with our guys. I say I will never tell you what to do, what to think or what to say. All I tell them is if you’re going to take a stand, first and foremost, do your research. Be a Stanford guy. Look things up, find facts and figures that support your argument.”
In 2016, Shaw said he told his players, “If you want to stand for something, understand the history of it and be able to defend your position,” via Vytas Mazeika of the Mercury News.
Shaw also talked about Drew Brees. The New Orleans Saints quarterback said earlier this month he would “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag” but was criticized for misunderstanding the point of the protests during the national anthem. He later offered multiple apologies.
“I felt bad for Drew; he misunderstood,” Shaw said.
The Stanford coach added: “In a very short period of time, it wasn’t just that he was backing down to the pressure. His teammates got to him.”
Shaw also detailed the racism he’s experienced in his own life:
“It’s best to assume that every single person in this country who is not white has experienced racism. It’s just best to assume that instead of assuming, ‘Oh, because you’re the head football coach at Stanford and you have a Stanford degree, you surely haven’t had to deal with racism.’ But yes, I was pulled over five blocks from my house. I don’t drink, so I wasn’t swerving. And I don’t speed. I’ve never gotten a ticket. But I got pulled over, 10:30 at night, five blocks from my house.”
The 47-year-old is one of 13 African American head coaches in FBS among 130 schools.
“I was told at a young age, you’re going to have to be twice as good to get half as much,” Shaw said. “It’s just the mentality that I’m going to have to overcome things that other people are not going to have to overcome in order to achieve what I want to achieve.”