While some NBA coaches have been unafraid to speak their minds when it comes to politics, race and other hot-button topics, NFL coaches, who lead large rosters of players from all backgrounds, have been notably silent.
Now, however, one coach has tepidly stepped into the fray.
Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, the only current head coach of Hispanic descent and just the third in NFL history, appeared on CNNMoney and discussed immigration, specifically President Donald Trump’s policies.
“I think people have to understand that whatever the President’s trying to do, whatever he’s trying to get across, it is really not about what he’s saying. But it’s about how we react and how we do things,” Rivera said.
“There’s a group of people that are trying to make better lives for their families and that’s what it really should be about. And I think what everyone has to understand more so than anything else is that what’s America’s foundation is built on. And we can’t block people out because of that.”
Rivera’s family is Mexican and Puerto Rican, and he became the first player in the league of those nationalities when the Chicago Bears took him in the first round in 1984.
It’s interesting that Rivera told CNNMoney host Ahiza Garcia that he feels a responsibility to speak out on Trump’s immigration policy and his pledge that Mexico will foot the bill for a border wall; in September, as the discussion of Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem and North Carolina’s HB2 bathroom bill were heating up, Rivera declared that sports and politics shouldn’t mix.
“Sports is sports and politics is politics,” Rivera said at the time.
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