Arizona State football coach Herm Edwards says the United States needs to emulate a key part of football -- the huddle -- to come together and have some frank discussions in the wake of George Floyd's death and the ensuing protests that have taken place throughout the country.
"It's one thing to have a conversation, but who are you having a conversation with? This is an uncomfortable conversation for a lot of people," Edwards told ESPN's Golic and Wingo on Tuesday. "And I think this is where sports is so unique: the huddle. And when you think about the huddle in football or in life, people come from all different walks of life and different beliefs. But they come in there, and they have this conversation of what it's gonna take to be successful -- not only as a football team, but in life. And I think until we can get groups together and have a conversation, communicate, then we always run to our corners and say, 'This is what it is.'
"We gotta get together. We gotta huddle up as a country and talk about these issues so we can progress."
Protests throughout the United States have been held following the May 25 death of Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis policeman pressed his knee into his neck for more than eight minutes even as Floyd pleaded for air and stopped moving. The demonstrations have turned violent in several cities, including fires being ignited in Lafayette Park across from the White House in Washington, and several cities have enacted curfews to curtail gatherings.
More than 5,600 people nationwide have been arrested over the past week for such offenses as stealing, blocking highways and breaking curfew, according to a count by The Associated Press.
Edwards likened the current situation to his memory of the reaction to Martin Luther King Jr.'s death in 1968.
"These times right now in America, it's kind of ironic," Edwards told Golic and Wingo. "1968, April 4, Dr. King was assassinated. And I can remember the riots that took place and all the unrest that was taking place. I was 14 years old and sitting at the table, sitting with my father, and asking him, 'What is all this?'
"Now, all of a sudden, spin it forward, 52 years later. I got two daughters, Gabrielle and Vivian, 14 and 13, and I'm sitting at the supper table and they're asking me, 'Daddy, why is this all happening? Why did the police do that to that man?' It's amazing. It just really is."
Edwards said that, for people of color, the justice system has felt unbalanced for some time and that these problems will continue until these systemic issues are addressed.
"The young generation is kinda going through what I went through in 1968, when I watched it all happen," Edwards said. "I was involved in it. I was involved in watching our country go through these growing pains. And the voices that haven't been heard, they want to be heard. It's a shame, because now, with the violence and the looting, it's hijacking the message. And you don't want that to take place. That should never take place. But that's kinda what's happened the last couple nights."
Edwards said he has been in contact with Sun Devils players seeking advice, saying he has told them, "You just gotta look at it from the perspective of, you guys get to change this country, you have an opportunity to do this for your kids."
"It's gonna take time for it to change," he said, "but I think because of the emotion we have right now as a country, people are starting to have this conversation. And you gotta have this conversation, to be quite honest, at the supper table with your kid, if you have a young kid, and tell 'em this is not right.
"America's better than this."