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Penn State Football: Franklin Speaks On Protests

on September 26, 2017 2:55 PM

Penn State coach James Franklin spoke at length answering two separate questions during Tuesday's news conference about the ongoing protests in the NFL following President Donald Trump's tweets indicating that any NFL player that knelt during the national anthem should be fired.

The initial protests were directed towards police on behalf of victims of police brutality in addition to broader concerns of racial inequality and racism in America.

Franklin, one of 14 black head coaches at the FBS level in 2017, offered up his thoughts when asked about this past weekend's near unanimous protests across the NFL and general racial tension in the nation today.

His full transcript can be read below.

"Well, the first thing, let me say, is this: We spent a lot of time discussing this last year. Had a lot of discussion about this really when it all first started. So as a team, we spent a good portion of the bye week of talking through this, talking through this issue. I think it was really good for our team to hear different perspectives. They had great dialogue. To me that's what college athletics is about, that's what Penn State is about and that's what this country is about.

Fortunately for us we spent a lot of time talking about this last year. This year we still spent some time talking about it but we didn't need to go into as much depth, because they knew how I felt and I knew how they felt and how we were going to handle it moving forward.

As you can imagine, I want my focus to be on Indiana as much as I possibly can. I have strong feelings as a United States citizen. I do have strong feelings as a college football coach, and I have very strong feelings as an African American.

But to me, those conversations and those things are personal. They are private to our team. What I love is I love how our guys are handling it. We are able to have really good discussion as a family. There's guys that are voicing their opinions with their teammates face-to-face. There's guys that are voicing their opinion socially.

What's most important for me is that guys don't react and make an emotional decision or have an emotional outburst; that they take their time and think it through and their thoughtful and express themselves and are articulate.

That's what this country is about. It's funny, yesterday I was at Rothrock and I'm coming out of getting another one of those green smoothies that we talked about last week, and somebody asked me about it and they had an opinion on how we should be handling it. I appreciate their opinion. But to me, that's what's so great about this country is that people have the ability to express themselves and people have the ability to have different opinions and different perspectives; but that we respect one another and we respect all different backgrounds. That's what makes this country so special.

So to me, the answer is pretty simple. We're in a free country and people have the ability to express themselves the way they think is right and it's our job as educators and as coaches, especially at collegiate level, to just make sure our guys are being thoughtful about it."

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In addition, Franklin was asked about freshman safety Lamont Wade, who has taken to Twitter and YouTube to articulate his thoughts and emotions surrounding them.

"For Lamont Wade, I'm proud of him," Franklin added. I'm proud of him because he spent time thinking about what's on his heart and what's on his mind and expressing himself, and being thoughtful and being articulate.

To me, that's what college athletics is all about. That's what Penn State's all about and that's what our country is supposed to be all about, embracing differences; appreciating that embracing differences is what makes our country so strong and so wonderful.

I think we're probably in a time right now where that's not being focus on enough and probably not being emphasized enough. We are focused on our differences from a negative perspective and we really should be focusing on our differences from a positive perspective, and it's what made this country so powerful and so wonderful and so special for so many people for so many years.

That's why I was very proud of Lamont Wade, because he took time and expressed himself, and to me, that's really good. There could be somebody else that has a complete opposite perspective of Lamont's, but as long as they are thoughtful and caring and looking at things from as many different perspectives and angles, which I think is something that I think we probably all should do more of.

We kind of look at it from our perspective and our world and how we were raised and how we grew up and the area that we live in. I think the important thing is making sure that you're looking at things from both perspectives.

I think you guys have heard me talk about before with my background, being biracial, African American, and my mom being Caucasian and being from England. I think that's one of my greatest strengths is I look at things from a lot of different perspectives.

That's what I want our team to do is to be able to have dialogue and be able to have love for one another and support for one another and respect each other. Not always agree, but respect. And to me, that's what we're trying to do in our locker room and that's what we're trying to do on our team; with also trying to keep the balance that we need to get ready and we need to get prepared for Indiana. But you need to balance both of them, because that's part of our job, too."

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