Iowa Football’s Matt Hankins Posts That He Will Kneel During Anthem

June 14, 2020

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Kirk Ferentz has stated twice publicly during the last two weeks that he wanted his team to either stand together or kneel together during the national anthem. His most recent statement came Friday at the Iowa football practice field when the longtime head coach held a press conference addressing alleged racial bias within his program.

“We all realize it’s a very polarizing issue right now. There are ways to do things, ways to recognize individuals, movements, whatever it may be, causes, in a way that hopefully is not polarizing, but yet powerful. That’d be my goal,” Ferentz said.

“I know when I walk in that room with those 21 leadership group members (of players), we’re walking in with reasonable people. We’ll have good communication, but I think the end goal is we’ll be together. That’s my number one requisite for everything we do.”

Ferentz was asked if he believed that whatever his team decides about standing or kneeling during the national, it would be unified.

“That’s my goal,” he said.

Saturday, two-year starting quarterback Matt Hankins, stated what he would be doing for peaceful protest before games.

“As for kneeling during the national anthem, regardless of what the team does, you will find me taking a knee,” the Texas product said.

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A portion of the Hawkeye fan base has vocally expressed that it will stop supporting the program should players kneel during the anthem. Some of them lashed out at safety Kaevon Merriweather for opening the door to the possibility.

Merriweather clarified his social media post on Friday. He and Ferentz indicated a decision had not been made by the team.

Hankins is the first current player stating that he will be kneeling for the anthem, an action that was criticized when former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew attention to it four years ago. The league has changed course on its position.

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While there are people that view kneeling during the national anthem as being disrespectful to the flag and military, others explain why they feel it’s not. As Ferentz stated, it’s been a polarizing topic and that’s unlikely to change before Iowa kicks off its season in early September.

A surge of more than 50 former players speaking out about racial inequities in the Iowa program was kicked off by the national anthem discussion. Former Hawkeye and current Chicago Bears offensive lineman James Daniels started the movement. Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson shared a story about his time in the Black and Gold, and why he supported Kaepernick.

Daniels clarified his point as to why collectively kneeling as a team during the anthem would be a powerful statement at Iowa. Kaepernick explained his reasoning for protesting when he did.

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“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” he said.

USA soccer overturned its ban on players kneeling during the anthem. President Donald Trump said he would no longer watch it.

The line between Americans feeling anthem protest is right and others who believe it’s wrong remains in the sand. People will interested in watching how the Hawkeyes handle it.

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