Former Iowa players denounce program culture

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Several former Iowa football players talk about the negative experiences they and other black players have had during the program.

Former Iowa offensive lineman James Daniels, now with the Chicago Bears, tweeted Friday night, “There are too many racial disparities in the Iowa football program. Black players have been treated unfairly for too long. Daniels’ tweet sparked responses from several other black players who competed for Iowa.

Former Iowa ball carrier Toren Young, who declared in January for the NFL draft with one year of eligibility remaining, tweeted that black Iowa players have learned to “comply with the white culture ‘when inside football facilities. He then deleted his tweet.

Former Hawkeyes defensive back Amani Hooker, now with the Tennessee Titans, tweeted: “I remember that every time he entered the facility, it would be difficult for black players to get around the establishment and to be themselves. As if the way you grew up was wrong or not acceptable and you would be judged by that and that would have an impact on playing time. ”Former Iowa defensive back Marcel Joly , tweeted, “I remember when I wore my tank tops in the establishment, I used to be called in the coaching office because I had too many tattoos and it was not the “Iowa Culture” or the “Iowa Way.” »»

Former Iowa players Greg Mabin and Tevaun Smith congratulated Daniels and others for raising concerns that had affected black players.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Friday he was “saddened” to hear comments from former players.

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“Although I would have liked them to contact us directly, I am grateful that these players have decided to share their experiences now,” Ferentz said in a prepared statement. “As I said earlier this week, the best way to affect change is to listen. I started to contact them individually to hear their stories firsthand. Making significant changes requires open dialogue and perhaps difficult conversations. I am happy to have the opportunity to do so. As staff and as leaders, we will listen and take the messages we hear to heart. “

Ferentz said in a videoconference with journalists on Wednesday that the national outcry team followed the death of George Floyd on May 25 while in police custody in Minneapolis. Ferentz, the longest-serving FBS coach, said he planned to have a public discussion on racial injustice. He also said on Wednesday that if the Iowa players chose to kneel during the national anthem this fall, he would like each player to kneel or stand up. Ferentz in 2016 opposed players protesting during the anthem.

“Certainly we come from different backgrounds, different beliefs, all kinds of things,” said Ferentz on Wednesday. “But we all agree on something and we all agree to work together and respect each other. The essence of any relationship in life is to realize that we are not always going to agree on subjects or subjects, but can we all find a mutual background to found and respect the opinions of others? “

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