Before last Friday, multiple NBA coaches had been willing to express concerns about the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. NFL coaches, however, had little to say about the situation — other than to periodically express support for him, as former Bills coach Rex Ryan and Patriots coach Bill Belichick did in 2016.
Now, multiple NFL coaches have had criticism for the President following his profane rant against football players who choose to use the anthem as a platform for protest regarding racial equality, social justice, and police brutality. On Sunday, Saints coach Sean Payton spoke his mind. The latest coach to speak out is one of the newest.
“I was pretty bothered by it,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Wednesday regarding President Trump’s remarks from last Friday. “I think the same way most people were. I think I’ve got a lot of regard for that position. I have my whole life. It’s a very important, big position to be the leader of our country and when you hear something like that, it definitely bothered me, especially when he’s calling out people that you’re associated with. But the most bothersome thing is how everyone sees that position in our country and you expect that position to be the best leader possible and when I think of being a leader, I think of bringing people together. All I know is the quotes I read and when I read those quotes, I think that’s the opposite of what you’re expecting.”
It helps that Shanahan’s boss, 49ers CEO Jed York, feels the same way. It also helps that Shanahan has a six-year, guaranteed contract with no offset language. Still, at a time when most NFL coaches have opted to keep their heads low and their mouths shut when it comes to calling out the Commander-in-Chief, any coach who is willing to do that deserves credit for having the nerve, whether you agree with the criticism or not. The fact that Shanahan, who has all of three NFL regular-season games under his belt, is willing to say something so early in his career speaks to a level of conviction that shouldn’t be as rare among football coaches as it apparently is.