Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney made his first statement on the death of George Floyd and the ensuing nationwide protests on Monday. Many were not super impressed by Swinney’s words.
After Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence was one of the first star athletes to give a very strong statement over the weekend, Swinney gave his on Monday. “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,” Swinney said, about Floyd’s death, and the state of the country since the video depicting it went viral a week ago. “We’ve had so much bad news but really today I want to take a moment and offer some good news and for me the good news is we have a Lord that loves us all and it has conquered already and we all have a choice as to how we think how we love, how we respond and how we forgive.”
Many pointed to Swinney’s 2016 diatribe against Colin Kaepernick, amid the San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s peaceful protests ahead of NFL games, as a clear example of Swinney missing the mark just a few years ago. After calling Kaepernick a “distraction to his team,” he implied that America’s issues weren’t about race, but “sin,” and said that people unhappy with it “need to move to another country.”
Swinney attempted to walk those back on Monday, calling his previous comments “harsh.” The Clemson coach often catches serious flak when he speaks on matters like these, but now he has at least one former player angry, and willing to reveal an incident during his time at Clemson. Former walk-on Kanyon Tuttle, son of Clemson Hall of Famer and 1981 national champion Perry Tuttle, alleges that Dabo Swinney did nothing after a Clemson coach called one of his teammates the N-Word during a practice.
Cap, you allowed a coach to call a player the N-word during practice with no repercussions. Not even a team apology. When we had the sit-in in front of sikes you suggested us players try to stay out of it to limit distractions. Stop protecting your brand, take a stand https://t.co/7gznXmyniI
— Tut (@_kinggtutt) June 2, 2020
Tuttle clarified that, while he still has plenty of respect for his former Clemson coach, “he needs to do better than this.” His messages are incredibly strong ones coming out of a program that so rarely breaks ranks like this.
Don’t think I don’t respect Coach Swinney, he is not a terrible person by any means. But he needs to do better than this. All the black athletes that helped you get where you are, you can do better to show them you really have their best interest at heart
— Tut (@_kinggtutt) June 2, 2020
Others, like Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz and Texas’ Tom Herman, have made extremely strong statements with specific language identifying issues of systemic racism, white privilege, and others that play huge roles in the ongoing dialogue that the country needs to have. Jim Harbaugh marched with protesters today in Michigan. They occupy similar places in their communities, and yet, have clearly done significant work to better understand the plight of the players they coach.
Hopefully Swinney will have a similar moment down the road here. We’ll see if he addresses Tuttle’s concerns in the coming days.