Mike Leach espouses on comments he made Monday saying he's unsure of what the NFL protestors are hoping to accomplish

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During his Monday news conference, Washington State coach Mike Leach said he had not addressed the issue of the NFL protests with his players and added, “to me, it’s not real clear what’s being protested.” 

Leach’s comments came after a weekend that saw sports and politics mingle when more than 200 NFL players protested in some fashion before Sunday’s games to show their displeasure for President Donald Trump’s statement last Friday that the NFL should cut players who did not stand for the national anthem.

Tuesday morning on the Pac-12 coaches conference call, Leach was asked about his stance on the protests again, and he elaborated more on his stance.

“I think everybody wants the same thing. Everybody is against any level of brutality and inequality but in our case everybody is focused on football,” Leach said, adding that his players have not brought the subject up with him. “We respect everybody’s opinion and what they think, but we actually have a saying “football time’s football time.”

Trump vs. NFL

The follow up question Tuesday, posed by my Seattle Times colleague Matt Calkins, was that if Leach has taken the stance that the point of the NFL players’ protests has not been clearly articulated, did he think the protests would have more of an impact if there was a better laid out plan?

“Well our country was based on protest, that’s how our country started,” Leach said, pointing out that the Boston Tea Party was one of the first and most famous protests in American history.

“I do think there’s a couple of questions with it. The first question is, ‘What’s being protested?’” Leach said. “To me, this has always been kind of in sweeping terms – ‘police brutality’ and ‘inequality.’ Well, everybody’s against that. We’re all against that.

“But, what can specifically be done to change it? What can make you happy? How do we fix that? That hasn’t been totally suggested.”

In the case of the Boston Tea Party protest, the WSU coach pointed out, the Boston Tea Party wanted the tea tax taken away.

“There’s a specific deal they wanted solved,” Leach said. “On this one, what, specifically, can be done to improve things? And then the other question involved – when you look at all the things the NFL regulates – is (that) this is something the NFL has chosen not to regulate.”

To Leach, this brings up the question of whether workplace protests are appropriate.

“There’s a lot of people, if they go to work and something is on their mind and something is bothering them – are you allowed to protest there on the job?” Leach said. “That’s not always the case. So you get into the whole question of, ‘Are you allowed to protest at work?’ which I think is a significant question.”

Leach’s extended comments on the matter came after a busy night for the coach on Twitter. In the wake of his original comments about being unsure of what is being protested, he got a myriad of responses on Twitter. The coach, who has always been a proponent of civil discourse, willingly engaged some fans and even former Cougars receiver Gabe Marks in debates on the NFL protests, their meaning and their efficacy.

“Gabe and I have had discussions for years,” Leach said about his Twitter dialogue with Marks. “He’s a very sharp guy and smart guy and he’s got an independent take on things. So I’ve always enjoyed discussions with Gabe.”