Former Iowa football players voice issues with program’s culture on social media

Multiple former Iowa players gave voice to negative experiences they and other black players have had in the Hawkeyes program over the years. First was current Chicago Bears offensive lineman James Daniels. He was then joined by several other former players sharing similar stories.

“There are too many racial disparities in the Iowa football program. Black players have been treated unfairly for far too long,” Daniels tweeted on Friday night.

Daniels’ sentiments were shared by other former Hawkeyes, including Amani Hooker, who now plays for the Tennessee Titans.

“I remember whenever walking into the facility it would be difficult for black players to walk around the facility and be themselves,” Hooker said. “As if the way you grew up was the wrong way or wasn’t acceptable & that you would be judge by that and it would impact playing time.”

Another former player, Marcel Joly, tweeted about how coaches told him having so many tattoos “wasn’t the ‘Iowa culture’ or the ‘Iowa Way.'”

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz released a statement saying he was “saddened” to hear the comments from his former players, but that he was “thankful” they were sharing them.

“While I wish they had reached out to us directly, I am thankful that these players decided to share their experiences now,” Ferentz said. “As I said earlier this week, the best way to affect change is by listening. I have started reaching out to them on an individual basis to hear their stories first hand. Making change that matters involves an open dialogue and possibly some tough conversations. I am glad to have the opportunity to do just that. As a staff and as leaders, we will listen and take to heart the messages we hear.”

Earlier this week, Ferentz told reporters that he had spoken with his team about the events stemming from the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police on Memorial Day. 

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