Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has voiced his support for his players’ right to protest.
On a conference call with the local media Tuesday morning, Tomlin expressed that he and the organization fully support players if they choose to kneel or protest social injustice and police brutality through other methods during the 2020 season.
“As an organization and a staff, we have focused our energies on supporting our players and their wishes and establishing structure and support to the things they want to say and do,” Tomlin said. “We spent a lot of group time talking about the on-going issues, the platform they have and how to best utilize it and how to do so thoughtfully. Our position is simple. We’re going to support our players and their willingness to partake in this, whether it’s statement or actions.”
Tomlin’s encouraged his players to make a positive impact, but to do so in a thought out, responsible manner.
“You know my position, I’ve stated it in the past, that statements are good, but impact is better, particularly long-term impact,” Tomlin said. “Those that have a desire to participate in a positive way, they are going to be supported by us. All we ask is whatever they say and do, they do so thoughtfully and with class.”
Numerous figures around the league have shared their intent to kneel or protest in some fashion against systemic racism and police brutality this season, following in the footsteps of exiled former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has been out of the league since 2016.
The Steelers received significant blowback in 2017 amid league-wide protests aimed at criticism of kneeling by President Donald Trump. While the team did not kneel on the field, players did stay in the tunnel for the anthem prior to the teams Week 3 matchup against Chicago, with the exception of former Army Ranger and current left tackle Alejandro Villanueva.
By voicing his support now, Tomlin appears to be ensuring that the team is unified this time around however they choose to protest racial inequality this fall.