The violence that claimed the life of one young woman and injured at least 19 others over the weekend caused Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh to decide not to stick to sports.
Harbaugh, who has weighed in from time to time on social issues since he arrived in Ann Arbor in 2014, tweeted Monday night that “Anyone who demonstrates through violence, terror or intimidation are embarrassments to our country and are truly disrespectful to our flag.”
Anyone who demonstrates through violence, terror or intimidation are embarrassments to our country & are truly disrespectful to our flag.
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) August 15, 2017
Over the past year, Harbaugh has spoken up, defending Colin Kaepernick and standing with an organization that provides affordable legal assistance to the poor. In August of 2016, Harbaugh spoke up when Kaepernick became a lightning rod for criticism over his national anthem protest. “I acknowledge his right to do it,” he initially told reporters, “but I don’t respect the motivation or the action.”
Harbaugh, with whom Kaepernick had his greatest success as the San Francisco 49ers advanced to Super Bowl in 2013, later clarified his comment, offered an opinion that was in line with that of many NFL coaches. “I apologize for misspeaking my true sentiments,” he tweeted. “To clarify, I support Colin’s motivation. It’s his method of action that I take exception to.”
Harbaugh left no room for interpretation when he touted Kaepernick’s abilities on the football field. Since Kaepernick left the 49ers, he has been unsigned by any NFL team, leading to debate about whether he is being blackballed by owners. Harbaugh said in March that he had fielded calls from executives and owners and gave Kaepernick a glowing recommendation. “I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them: I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player,” he said. “He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships.”
In February, Harbaugh, a member of the Legal Services Corporation’s Leaders Council, spoke up when it was facing budget cuts by President Trump. The LSC, which was created by Congress in 1974 and includes Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, author John Grisham, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Microsoft CEO Brad Smith and others, was created to “raise awareness of the country’s current crisis in legal aid,” LSC said last year.
“LSC is CRUCIAL to making justice system fair,” Harbaugh tweeted. “#LSC matters.”
Although he has not been especially vocal politically, he did attend former president Barack Obama’s rally for Hillary Clinton in Ann Arbor last November, standing with his arms at his side and declining to applaud. He attended Obama’s final State of the Union address as a guest of Michigan Reps. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat, and Justin Amash, a Republican. Just before the presidential election, he met in the White House with the then-president and Michelle Obama about a student-achievement initiative.
Last spring, Harbaugh, who, like the president, knows how to dominate a news cycle, pointed out a trait that he especially admired in Trump, who narrowly won Michigan in the election.
“The thing I like about Donald Trump is he’s not afraid to fight the establishment.”
Harbaugh on being called Trump of college football: "The thing I like about Donald Trump is he's not afraid to fight the establishment."
— Mark Snyder (@Mark__Snyder) April 14, 2016
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