Iowa Football

Iowa's Kirk Ferentz: 'Change will begin with us'

Iowa head football coach talked George Floyd with is team Monday afternoon

Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz congratulates Iowa Hawkeyes running back Tyler Goodson (15) after a touchdown duri
Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz congratulates Iowa Hawkeyes running back Tyler Goodson (15) after a touchdown during the first half of 2019 Holiday Bowl against the USC Trojans at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2000. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz addressed his team Monday afternoon on the death of George Floyd and the national protest surrounding the actions of the Minneapolis Police Department.

Ferentz later shared an email with the team and staff. The Gazette obtained a copy.

“I have watched that video,” Ferentz said to his team during a Zoom video conference Monday. “It is brutal and painful. It’s heartbreaking. And the lack of action by the other officers is maddening and makes them complicit.”

Ferentz mentioned at the beginning he heard from team members wondering why he hadn’t said anything. Ferentz told players that was deliberate. He wanted them to hear his first words on the topic.

The Hawkeyes are slated to return to preparation for the 2020 season on June 8.

Here’s a transcript from Ferentz’s time with his players:

“I want to start this meeting by talking about the events of the past week, and the reactions that have taken place here on campus, in the Midwest and around the world. I spoke about this on the voicemail you all received Saturday morning, but I feel like there is more to say.

“Some of you have commented that I haven’t had anything posted on our social media channels yet. That is deliberate. I want my first conversations about this to be with you and your families. Then it can be shared with the outside world. But you are always my first priority.

“I’m going to talk about this with you now, and then you’ll be getting an email from me so you can read them again. You can share that with your parents, family and friends if you wish.

“As you know, a man named George Floyd died in Minneapolis last week. He was arrested by police for suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill. While he was handcuffed and laying on the ground, a police officer kneeled on Mr. Floyd’s neck. Mr. Floyd pleaded and said he could not breathe. The officer and the three other officers did nothing. Nothing. Mr. Floyd cried out for his mother. And the police officers did nothing. George Floyd later died.

“I have watched that video. It is brutal and painful. It’s heartbreaking. And the lack of action by the other officers is maddening and makes them complicit.

“George Floyd’s death sparked outrage and calls for change nationwide. You can’t be human and not be affected by that video. I’m sure that many of you felt the same way I did — heartbroken. Frustrated. Angry.

"There have been racial problems in this country for generations. There has been discrimination, resentment and mistrust for a long time. I hoped by now we would be better at relationships when it comes to race — but this week shows we have a long way to go.

“I am a white football coach. I cannot begin to imagine what it is like to be pulled over for driving while black or to have people cross the street because they don’t want to walk alongside of you.

“But some of your coaches have shared that experience. I know it is real and it happens.

“If things are going to change, it will be up to all of us as individuals to be a part of the change. As a team, we can help lead it.

“Here is how we’re going to make an impact — in this time of such anguish and emotion, we are going to be better listeners. Not just hearing from others but listening and trying our best to understand where another opinion is coming from.

“In our program, we talk about preparing to be the best. Here’s the truth — that’s not just as a player on a Saturday. We’re all here to prepare you to be the best version of yourself.

“Teaching all of you — our players how to be an impactful member of society. These are painful times for our nation and community. One of the most important traits a leader can demonstrate is the ability to listen. To always have an attitude of learning.

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“In our program we will use this time to listen, understand and grow as individuals and as a team.

“Change will begin with us."

Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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