Alabama football coach Nick Saban joined a march organized by his players Monday in the wake of Jacob Blake's shooting and other protests around the country against racial discrimination and police brutality.
On Wednesday, Saban told reporters he would continue supporting his players as they protested systemic racism:
"We're not letting this die. We're making a list of things that our players can do and can encourage other people to do in our own community, some of which they mentioned on Monday. So this is just not, 'We came over there on Monday and we had a march,' and now it's over. It's, 'Hey, we challenged everybody to do things to make a difference and now we're going to challenge ourselves to do the same things,' me included. And everybody can do that in their own way."
Saban brushed off any criticism leveled at himself, the players and school officials that marched, namely those criticisms aimed at the players who carried a "Black Lives Matter" banner:
"I wanted to be supportive of our players. I've talked to the players about these types of things. I listened and I listened and learned. I think it's not just about me or what I think necessarily, but also supporting them in a positive way, in terms of what their views are. The concepts that they support -- I don’t think they've ever come out and say they support any organization -- good, bad or indifferent. They support concepts of things that can be done in the future."
Alabama President Stuart Bell and athletics director Greg Byrne were among those who spoke at Monday's event. Center Chris Owens, meanwhile, said Saban's presence at the march hadn't been preannounced and that he joined his team willingly.
"Coach Saban was very supportive of it," he said. "This wasn't something we made him do. This was something he wanted to do because he truly does care about his players. We didn't have to pull teeth. He truly cares about us, so he wanted to be upfront, and he wanted to let everyone know that he has our backs."