An undated photo appearing to show Dabo Swinney wearing a “Football Matters” t-shirt surfaced Saturday on Twitter, leading to more backlash against the Clemson football coach who had already been criticized for his response to the death of George Floyd. The phrase “Football Matters” is used as a slogan by the National Football Foundation, which …
An undated photo appearing to show Dabo Swinney wearing a “Football Matters” t-shirt surfaced Saturday on Twitter, leading to more backlash against the Clemson football coach who had already been criticized for his response to the death of George Floyd.
The phrase “Football Matters” is used as a slogan by the National Football Foundation, which according to its website is “a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people.”
Swinney used the phrase in a statehouse speech for Clemson’s 2016 national championship, however, phrases like “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter” are commonly associated with belittling the Black Lives Matter movement, which began in 2013 to fight systematic racism and has been the center of the recent national protests against police brutality.
The tweet showcasing the 50-year-old in the shirt was since deleted by @OUsooner2010, an account that is no longer active on the social media site.
“Met Dabo today for the first time ever at the Reserve today and even though I went to Oklahoma for undergrad, he really is a great dude and nice as can be. Thanks for the pic Coach!!!” the tweet read.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence — who spoke out against racial injustice after Floyd died in May at the hands of police in Minnesota — came to his coach’s defense late Saturday night, claiming that Swinney has had the shirt for quite some time and that it is not meant to mock the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Coach Swinney’s shirt, in any way, is not mocking the Black Lives Matter movement,” Lawrence said. “He has been wearing the shirt for months in meetings.”
Floyd, a black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into the back of Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.
Swinney had been rebuked for staying silent amid the protests after Floyd’s death, even as many coaches and college players across the country spoke out.
“Sometimes it’s better to listen than speak,” Swinney said in breaking his silence to reporters last week. “It’s not about trying to speak first or something like that. I’ve spent the last week listening.
“…What I know as I approach everything from a perspective of faith is that where there are people, there’s going to be hate, there’s going to be racism and greed and jealousy and crime and so on because we live in a sinful fallen world. We’ve had so much bad news.”
Former Clemson receiver Kanyon Tuttle called Swinney out on Twitter following the coach’s comments to the media, detailing an incident in which a member of Swinney’s coaching staff called “a player the N-word during practice with no repercussions.” Former Clemson tight end D.J. Greenlee later told The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C. that the incident had occurred between himself and longtime special teams coordinator Danny Pearman during a practice in 2017.
“I repeated a racial slur I overheard when trying to stop the word from being used on the practice field. What I overheard, I had no right to repeat,” Pearman said in a statement. “While I did not direct the term at any player, I know there is no excuse for me using the language in any circumstance. I never should have repeated the phrase. It was wrong when I said it, and it is wrong today.”
Former Clemson offensive tackle Shaquille Anthony told the Greenville News he’s “disappointed” Swinney hasn’t yet addressed Pearman’s use of the slur.