Dabo Swinney is attempting to flip the script of what’s been a less-than-positive past few days for his Clemson football program.
As college coaches across the country were speaking out in the wake of George Floyd‘s murder, Swinney, one of the most powerful head coaches in the nation, was criticized for staying silent as long as he did. Early last week, longtime Tigers assistant coach Danny Pearman apologized for repeating “a racial slur I overheard when trying to stop the word from being used on the practice field” three years ago. Ex-Clemson offensive tackle Shaquille Anthony subsequently stated that he was disappointed Swinney didn’t address the controversy involving his assistant. Then, there was the “Football Matters” t-shirt imbroglio.
Through it all, Swinney had stayed silent since. Until now.
Monday evening, Clemson posted a 14-minute video of Dabo Swinney addressing the various issues that have slammed into program. In that video, Swinney addressed the N-word controversy involving Pearman. According to the head coach, there are two words he absolutely won’t tolerate: the N-word and g ddamn.
“I would fire a coach immediately if he called a player the N-word,” Swinney stated. It should be noted that the assistant wasn’t accused of calling a player the racial epithet; rather, he repeated. Which Pearman admitted. Swinney also acknowledged that Pearman repeated it, and that he shouldn’t have.
Swinney also addressed the wardrobe flap. The coach was photographed recently wearing a shirt with the National Football Foundation slogan “Football Matters” emblazoned on it. Some thought it was a subtle shot at the Black Lives Matter movement. Swinney stated that’s not even remotely the case.
“Any insinuation that I was trying to mock the Black Lives movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s just an attack on my character. Just an attack on my character. And really sad,” Dabo Swinney stated.
Clemson also posted some of Swinney’s words to go along with the video:
ON SUPPORTING POSITIVE CHANGE:
“This is a historic time in our world and in our country, and as a coach and as a team, we will do our part to create positive change against racism of any kind, social injustice and police brutality.
I always have believed that actions are a lot louder than words, and I love our team for the actions that they have already taken with a great town hall meeting and lots of communication in our position meetings. We had a wonderful senior meeting last week with just great discussion and it was just awesome to see and hear our young men speak, and just wonderful brotherly love. We’ve got a team meeting coming up and many other things, so I’m proud of the actions that our guys have already taken.
We’re just a football program and I’m just a football coach, but Clemson has been a leader on and off the field for the past decade, and we will continue to be a leader and a light for many. We are a unified football team and we will work to unify others by how we serve, by how we play the game and by how we do our jobs as a staff.
We have always had great leadership within our program and, man, this team is no different. It has been incredible to see this brilliant group of young people lead right now, and [I’m] so proud of them. This group of leaders on this team, they are ready to lead the way to being a part of the solution for this country.
I stand with my players and I will help them any way I can to unify people and help create positive change.”
ON THE PATH FORWARD:
“We will continue to communicate and continue to get better. We have much more work to do, but we have taken a lot of action over the past decade to help create change for our players and our community, and we will continue to do that.
This is a historic time – a historic time — and the time for change is now in so many areas that have affected our black players and their families for many, many years. And again, we’re just a football program, but we will do our part to create great change in this world. God bless you.”