George Floyd Helped Tom Izzo Understand Kaepernick's Protest


When Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the national anthem in 2016, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo didn’t like it.

“When I look back, I can’t say when it all happened with Colin Kaepernick that I agreed with it,” Izzo said on Tiki & Tierney. “I can’t say I did. I do a lot of military stuff. But like a lot of people, [I was] semi-uneducated.”

Since the murder of George Floyd, however, Izzo has sought to educate himself. He also put Kaepernick’s protest in context with protests that were common in his – Izzo’s – youth.

“Back then, there were all the hippies – a lot of white people – burning flags every day. Burning them,” Izzo said. “Here’s a healthy protest, taking a knee. What I’ve done a lot in the last month, I called my guys like Steve Smith and Magic [Johnson] and Mateen [Cleaves], I tried to get help from all eras – Gregory Kelser – all different eras of our university and get some feedback from guys to help. That was my way to say to them, sometimes we’re all uneducated.”

It appears Izzo, 65, now has a much more nuanced understanding and perspective on this topic.

“I think it’s been good for me,” Izzo said. “I hate to see that costing someone their lives, and I think it’s ridiculous what’s gone on. But I think I’m going to be a better coach and a better guy, and I’m going to really work on connecting even harder. The goal’s got to be, ‘Let’s not be Italian-American or Jewish-American or Afro-American; let’s be American.’ That’s going to be my battle cry.”