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San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: NFL owners who donated to Trump are ‘hypocritical’

“It doesn’t make sense,” he says of the white men whose teams rely on rosters of mostly black players for success.
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich walks the sideline in a game against the Denver Nuggets in February.
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich walks the sideline in a game against the Denver Nuggets in February. [ DAVID ZALUBOWSKI | AP ]
Published Jun. 15, 2020
Updated Jun. 15, 2020

Gregg Popovich, coach of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs coach, called NFL owners who have supported President Donald Trump “hypocritical” for donating to him while running franchises that rely on rosters of mostly black players for success and making money.

Seven NFL owners donated at least $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee in 2016-17, and others donated lesser amounts.

“It’s just hypocritical,” Popovich said in an interview with the New York Times published Saturday. “It’s incongruent. It doesn’t make sense. People aren’t blind. Do you go to your staff and your players and talk about injustices and democracy and how to protest? I don’t get it. I think they put themselves in a position that’s untenable.”

The owners who gave gave $1 million, based on a 2017 report from USA Today from Federal Election Commission information, were Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Rams owner Stan Kroenke, Jets owner Woody Johnson (who became the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom), Washington owner Daniel Snyder, Jaguars owner Shad Khan, and Texans founder Bob McNair, who has since died.

Bucs owner Edward Glazer donated $250,000, and Browns owner Jimmy Haslam gave $100,000 directly, along with $300,000 through his truck-stop business.

Glazer, McNair and Johnson also contributed to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign in the 2015-16 reporting period, according to the reports, and Snyder contributed to Trump in the 2017 reporting period.

Popovich, a 71-year-old Air Force Academy graduate with a degree in Soviet studies, has been a frequent vocal Trump critic.

The Spurs’ coach since 1996 and winner of five NBA titles, he also has been outspoken about social justices issues over the years. Lately he has spoken out more about race relations in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in Minneapolis police custody last month

Popovich, who is white, has spent his years with the Spurs in a dialogue about race with his teams.

“Especially if you’re a white coach and you’re coaching a group that’s largely black, you’d better gain their trust, you’d better be genuine, you’d better understand their situation,” he said.

But in recent calls with the Spurs’ players and staff, he said, he has been amazed at the level of hurt.

“It would bring you to tears,” he told the New York Times, his voice cracking. “It’s even deeper than you thought, and that’s what really made me start to think: You’re a privileged (person) and you still don’t get it as much as you think you do. You gotta work harder. You gotta be more aware. You gotta be pushed and embarrassed. You’ve gotta call it out.”

The website Pro Football Talk contributed to this report.

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