TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians continued a back-and-forth with DeMaurice Smith on Friday after the NFLPA executive director said Arians was “woefully misinformed about the history of protest.”
After George Floyd was killed earlier this summer, Arians recalled the race riots in York, Pennsylvania, in 1968 and 1969, when dozens of people were injured and two people were killed. Arians was 16 at the time and recalled seeing the National Guard going up and down his street.
“Protesting doesn’t do crap, in my opinion,” said Arians on Thursday, instead imploring Bucs players to take action. “I’ve been seeing it since 1968.”
Smith posted a tweet later Thursday with a photo of former U.S. congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, who died in July.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it’s clear he is woefully misinformed about the history of protest both within sports and in America,” Smith’s tweet said.
On Friday, 67-year-old Arians took offense to Smith’s post.
“Yeah, I have a history,” Arians said. “It might be a little bit longer than his.”
As a quarterback at Virginia Tech, Arians was the first white player to room with a Black teammate — James Barber, one of two Black players on the team, and father of Ronde and Tiki Barber — and he has long credited his upbringing in a diverse community for his progressive stances on racial issues.
Arians is also the only current NFL coach with a Black offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, special-teams coordinator and run game coordinator/assistant head coach.
Arians told his players that he’d support them if they chose to miss or move a practice if they could devise a plan to bring about change, adding that the Bucs’ player-led social justice committee was to meet this week to discuss ideas.