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ASU coach Herm Edwards on racism, solutions: ‘America is better than this’

ASU football head coach Herm Edwards interviews with Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Feb. 10, 2020. (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

From the perspective of his own home, Arizona State head football coach Herm Edwards sees the parallels between the past week and the 1968 riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Then, he was 14 years old, sitting at the dinner table and learning from his father about racial injustices and the emotions they spurred that led to riots. This past week, after George Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, Edwards is the father having to explain similar pain to his similarly aged daughters.

During an interview with ESPN’s Golic & Wingo, Edwards said that he knows things won’t change overnight. As a father and football coach, he can only push younger generations to stand up and force progress.

“It’s going to benefit their kids. It’s going to take time for it to change, but I think because of the emotion we have right now as a country, people are starting to have this conversation,” Edwards said Tuesday. “And you got to have this conversation, to be quite honest, at the supper table with your kids, if you have young kids, and tell them this is not right. America is better than this.

“Guys, this is unbeliveable to watch. I mean, we got the National Guard. This is crazy. This is like a third-world country. This is America. We’re way better than this.”

Edwards posted a minute-long video to his Twitter page Tuesday with the caption, “When American huddles up, we are a powerful team.”

The metaphor of the football huddle is something Edwards explained more in detail on Golic & Wingo.

“It’s one thing to have a conversation, but who are you having a conversation with? This is an uncomfortable conversation for a lot of people,” he said. “I think this is where sports is so unique. The huddle: When you think about a huddle in football or in life, people come from all different walks of life, and different beliefs, but they come in there and they have this conversation of what it’s going to take to be successful.”

Of course, it means only so much to say something, Edwards said. Changing opinions isn’t easy without those honest conversations, without that listening.

And listening is hard when the message of peaceful protests are “hijacked,” in his words, with police violence and looting.

The ASU head coach was asked what made him hopeful that the result of these current conversations will make a difference.

“You’re hoping the people in position of power that can make change, make change. It’s not talked about, it’s done,” Edwards said. “It’s a shame because the police officers now are getting labeled and they shouldn’t be labeled. We’re not saying the police are bad because they’re not. But that’s the problem: We catch a glimse of it and we want to paint the full brush of everyone. It’s people like that — you can’t allow them to be a part of your team. You just can’t … When they make a mistake, it’s not a penalty. Somebody could die.

“Until we can get groups together and have a conversation, communicate … we got to get together. We got to huddle up as a country and get through these issues and progress.”

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