#Dabo Swinney defends himself against racial slur, Black Lives Matter claims

#Dabo Swinney defends himself against racial slur, Black Lives Matter claims

June 8, 2020 | 9:36pm

Dabo Swinney took his critics head on.

The Clemson football coach, in a 14-minute video posted on the school’s athletic department website Monday, addressed claims made last week about his “Football Matters” T-shirt and use of the n-word in the Tigers program.

“Anybody who has been in our program, they know that there are two words that I don’t want to hear,” Swinney said. “There are two in particular that I will absolutely call you out on. One is the n-word and the other is GD. I would fire a coach immediately if he called a player an n-word. No questions asked. That did not happen. Absolutely did not happen.”

Then assistant coach Danny Pearman was accused by former Tigers player Kanyon Tuttle on Twitter of using a racial slur during a 2017 practice. Swinney said the story was not in the proper context. He said Pearman was giving tight end DJ Greenlee instruction during a drill that was not in the front of the whole team and that after being corrected, the player said something he should not have and Pearman was reacting to it.

“[Greenlee] said, ‘I blocked the wrong f’in n-word’ and coach Pearman thought he was saying it to him and he’s mad and he reacted and he in correcting him repeated the same phase. He said, ‘We don’t say we blocked the wrong f’in n-word’ and he repeated it and he shouldn’t have done that,” Swinney said. “There is no excuse for saying that, it doesn’t matter what the context is. But there is a big difference. He did not call someone an n-word.”

Pearman has since apologized and Greenlee confirmed to The State newspaper that the coach used the word, but did not call him it.

Swinney also took heat after a photo surfaced of him this week posing with fans and wearing a shirt that said “Football Matters.” Some saw Swinney’s shirt as offensive as Black Lives Matter protests are going on throughout the country after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis on May 25.

The national championship winning coach explained that he’s had the shirt for “a couple of years” after it was given to coaches by the National Football Foundation as a promotional item around 2014. He took issue with anyone who felt he was mocking the Black Lives Matter movement, calling it “an attack on my character” and “really sad.” Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence came to his coach’s defense Saturday, saying Swinney had the shirt for some time and that it is not meant to belittle the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I wholeheartedly support Black Lives Matter,” Swinney said. “In fact, I don’t quite think that’s adequate enough. I think black lives significantly and equally matter. To me, Black Lives Matter is just like, ‘hey we matter, too.’ I think black lives significantly and equally matter.”

He also defended himself against claims made Saturday by former player Haamid Williams that the coach used the n-word multiple times while being critical of a player’s choice of music as he was showing eventual defensive backs coach Mike Reed around during the hiring process. Williams in a tweet wrote that Swinney said: “I don’t want to walk in the locker room with guests/future coaches hearing n—a this, n—a that in our house.” The coach called this “absolutely false.”

“There was music blaring and literally every other word was the n-word,” Swinney said. “It was disappointing and I was embarrassed, especially with Coach Reed and walking him around. So we had a team meeting and what was said this week is absolutely false.

“The player who was playing the music, he called me this week saying, ‘this is crazy, this is an absolute lie.’ And I said, ‘I know.’ Anyway, I stood before the team and said I don’t want to hear that word. I’m trying to walk a coach around and I’m hearing the n-word over and over again. Never did I repeat that word.”

Another claim Swinney addressed was Tuttle saying the coach had discouraged players from taking part in a sit-in on campus, by bringing up the need to limit distractions. Swinney countered by saying he only want his players — who are high-profile members of the Clemson and college football community — to be fully informed of an event’s purpose and to “know what you’re signing up for.” He said he addressed the team and reminded his players they needed “to be prepared to be on the news and on ESPN and so forth because of who you are.”

“I would never tell someone that they could not go participate in something they believe in or exercise their basic right. I would never do that,” Swinney said. “But as a coach, our job is to teach, to educate, to protect, to inform.”


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