Taggart and Andersen speak out on anthem protests

Oregon Ducks Head Coach Willie Taggart leads his team onto the field to exchange uniforms with US Military Servicemembers. The 2017 Oregon Ducks Spring Game provided fans their first look at the team under new Head Coach Willie Taggart’s direction. Team Free defeated Team Brave 34-11 on a sunny day at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. Photo by Austin Hicks, Oregon News Lab

NFL players made waves on Sunday morning with their actions on the football field. This time, it was what they did on the sidelines that garnered national attention.

More than 250 players chose to take a knee for the national anthem, protesting both the police brutality and racial injustice brought to light when Colin Kaepernick decided to protest the anthem more than a year ago.

Several players also chose to kneel in an act of defiance towards the words spoken by President Trump over the weekend, encouraging NFL owners to fire players who chose to protest while using vulgar language.

NFL Sundays are a national stage in America, and what happens at games often reverberate through the airwaves for days following.

In the college game, however, players and coaches alike are just as passionate about the issues our country is facing.

"We always talk as a football team, and I think it's our job as coaches to make sure to educate these guys on what's going on," said Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. "Sometimes our guys get so caught up in their lives here on campus and in football, and they don't really understand what's going on in the world, and in our country."

At both the University of Oregon and Oregon State University, there is no opportunity for players to protest the national anthem because teams remain in the locker while it takes place.

Both Taggart and Beavers' head coach Gary Andersen believe it is important to communicate with their players about what's happening in our world.

"If our kids want to talk about it and communicate about it, then there's absolutely no doubt that we would want to talk about it, from a coaching staff or from a team standpoint," said Andersen.

While most players have chosen to remain quiet on the subject of anthem protests, some have spoken out on Twitter.

Whether college players are able to take a stand - or a knee - for what they believe in before games, their coaches are making sure they stay up to date on what is happening around them.

"I think that's the most important thing, that we continue to educate our young people," said Taggart. "That's very important to me and to our team, and it's great that our guys understand that, and that if they do have issues, they'll come and we'll talk about them."

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