A Sad Weekend For The Iowa Football Program
This was not a great weekend for the Iowa Hawkeye football program. Suggestions of racist behavior by former players, and then the defacing of the statue of Nile Kinnick during protests in Iowa City. This was not a great weekend to be a Hawkeye.
The anger towards possible racist activity is understandable. The continued marches and protests in the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd are too. But what doesn't make sense is the destruction of public property, and the statue of a man who died for his country and probably would have marched right along with protesters. Many former Iowa players are speaking out against the vandalism of the Nile Kinnick statue saying that those protesters are missing the point. Former Hawkeye Jaleel Johnson took to Twitter to express his anger and frustration.
Johnson was also one of the strongest voices to speak up against what many former Iowa players have described as a culture of racism within the Iowa Football program. USA Today reports that Johnson and others pointed out strength coach Chris Doyle and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz as two of the biggest problems. Doyle has been placed on paid administrative leave by the university.
Perhaps what hurts about this so much, is that Nile Kinnick is a symbol of everything that is right about Iowa. Our only Heisman Trophy winner. He died serving our country in World War 2. And he more than likely would have agreed and marched with protesters today. USA Today printed an entry from Kinnick's journal in 1943. It reads:
The inequities in human relationships are many, but the lot of the Negro is one of the worst. ... Kicked from pillar to post, condemned, cussed, ridiculed, accorded no respect, permitted no sense of human dignity. What can be done I don't know. When this war is over the problem is apt to be more difficult than ever. May wisdom, justice, brotherly love guide our steps to the right solution.
The statue of Nile Kinnick has since been scrubbed clean by volunteers in Iowa City. Cleaning up the rest of what is wrong will take much longer.