IU’s Tom Allen may have been the first power five college football head coach to speak out on the tragic death of George Floyd.
And whether he expected it or not, in a relatively minor way Allen has become part of the story.
It started with a brief statement on Allen’s Twitter page on Friday afternoon.
My heart is broken by what is going on in our country. Racial injustice is wrong and it MUST be addressed!! I Believe we are to LOVE EACH OTHER! No matter one’s skin color. Love is a choice. Our prayers are with George Floyd’s family. John 15:12 #LEO
— Coach Tom Allen (@CoachAllenIU) May 29, 2020
In many ways that Tweet broke an awkward silence by college football coaches, leaders of young black men emotionally scarred by Floyd’s death.
A 46-year old black man, Floyd died on Monday after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes while other officers did nothing to stop the situation. The incident was filmed by several pedestrians and his been widely distributed throughout the world.
Several members of the IU football program took to social media on Friday as unrest erupted in Minneapolis and throughout the country.
Praying for US🙏🏾 #BlackLivesMatter 🖤
— Mike Penix Jr. (@themikepenix) May 29, 2020
THIS IS RIDICULOUS. WHY? WHAT DID MY PEOPLE DO? Our LIVES MATTER TOO!
— Whop Philyor™ (@SuperstarWhop) May 28, 2020
“My heart is telling me I need to say something,” Allen told Bruce Feldman of his growing discomfort with the situation on Friday in a story by The Athletic.
Allen said that he talked to Indiana athletic director Fred Glass before sending the tweet.
And Glass’ message was simple –“follow your heart.”
Allen’s heart was guided by a recognition that he is a leader of young black men and the ambassador of a “Love Each Other” culture — and it was important that he stood with his players.
“I just feel like the silence was wrong because of who I represent and what our team is made up of,” Allen told The Athletic. “And for the guys that I have worked with my whole life to try to help them become the men I believe they were created to be.”
Allen’s urge to say something wasn’t intended to reflect that he could relate to what his players were experiencing.
“I just want to be there for them,” Allen told The Athletic. “I told them that I can’t relate. I’m not going to act like I can. But I care and I love them.”
A USA Today story by Dan Wolken acknowledged that Allen’s awareness and urge to speak caused him to be a leading voice among college football coaches.
“Indiana’s Tom Allen and Georgia Tech’s Geoff Collins were the only Power Five head coaches who even acknowledged the searing reality,” the USA Today report said.
Several other reports around the country also mentioned that Allen was one of, if not the first, coach to speak out.
Allen’s current and former players shared their appreciation on social media.
— Elijah Rodgers (@ElijahDRodgers) May 31, 2020
Love ya coach!
— MarQueis Gray (@MarQueisG) May 29, 2020
— Dominique Bowman (@Dbowman85) May 29, 2020
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