Amid the protests that have taken hold nationwide, a former Clemson football player brought up a 2016 incident within the program that has gone unaddressed by head coach Dabo Swinney. Days later, and the national title-winning coach has remained pretty silent.
Kanyon Tuttle, a member of Swinney’s first national title team, spoke out about the issue after what was seen as a half-hearted statement decrying racism by the coach, in light of George Floyd’s death. He accused Swinney of not addressing a practice incident, where an assistant used the N-Word during an argument with a player. Former Tigers tight end D.J. Greenlee confirmed that he was the player in question, and named Clemson associate head coach Dan Pearman as the coach.
Greenlee said that Pearman apologized to him throughout that season, and he did forgive him. Pearman released a statement, calling it a grave mistake that he made after hearing a black player use the word during an argument, which he then repeated. “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,” he wrote.
Paul Finebaum and Domonique Foxworth of ESPN have both called out Dabo Swinney in light of this story. He has not done much to address it, and it doesn’t sound like he ever acknowledged it to the team as a whole, even though it clearly wasn’t an incident that only Greenlee and Pearman were aware of at the time. Now, Tuttle has taken to Twitter once again, releasing an extremely strong statement about Swinney’s silence.
Lessons learned, time to move forward and keep striving for better. pic.twitter.com/1f1FB09iou
— Tut (@_kinggtutt) June 5, 2020
Tuttle is the son of Tigers Hall of Famer Perry Tuttle, a member of the 1981 national championship team. The full text from his statement:
“I have been around Clemson University and Clemson Football my entire life. I have known both Coach Swinney & Pearman since I was little. I’m not saying they are racist; however, they represent a large population of our country. People who may mean no harm, but choose to be silent.
“With our country at such unrest, being without an opinion is simply not an option. With as much interaction as college coaches have with black players and their families, it’s insulting to have them ignore the obvious racism and prejudice the black community faces everyday. If people genuinely don’t understand that or the reason behind the protests, that is unfortunate.
“As the head coach of Clemson’s team, Coach Swinney, you should seek as much information and education as possible so you can understand. Upon doing so, I believe that you will realize the opportunity you have, as a white adult man, to be a major bridge for those people who fail to seek understanding of the black community from which a large portion of your players come from.
“As a former player of your program, it’s disheartening to see the person who instilled ‘Best is Standard’ into the community, and preached to his players to always do right even if everyone else is doing wrong, fail to do the right thing when it comes to speaking up for your players’ rights. Many of your players have been loyal to the paw for the betterment of the brand. Your players deserve for you to return the favor and use your platform (the platform that so many black players have and still are helping you build) to protect our brand, the color of our skin.
“The senseless killing of black people is now right and you know that someone is not a threat just because of the color of their skin. Like you, we are all God’s creation and deserve to be treated as such, whether we wear a jersey or not.”
Dabo Swinney will absolutely be asked about this entire situation the next time he speaks to the media.
Whether he chooses to proactively address it before that is anyone’s guess.