Dabo Swinney knows best way to effect change is through his players, not his words


by - Senior Writer -
Dabo Swinney knows the best way to affect change is through his players.
Dabo Swinney knows the best way to affect change is through his players.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney usually doesn’t hold back when he’s talking passionately about something, but on Monday’s conference call with the media, his comments were unusually subdued. And that made them perfect considering the events of the past few weeks.

Swinney started the conference call by saying that while he knows some have wanted him to speak out about the death of George Floyd in Minnesota -- he’s held back. He said he understands that there are those who will criticize him when he speaks out, and there are those who criticize when he doesn’t.

Monday was a little of both.

"Sometimes it's better to listen than speak,” he said, when it was time to speak Monday. “It's not about trying to speak first or something like that. I've spent the last week listening. First and foremost I know that we are all hurting for the Floyd family and our country. I can speak for our entire staff and our team in that regard for sure. We have all witnessed just disgusting acts of evil. That’s really the only word I can appropriately use.

“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."

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence made his feelings known late last week, taking to Twitter to voice support for his teammates.

“There has to be a shift in the way of thinking. Rational must outweigh irrational,” Lawrence wrote. “Justice must outweigh injustice. Love must outweigh hate. If you put yourself in someone else’s shoes and you don’t like how it feels—that’s when you know things need to change.

“I’m siding with my brothers that deal, and continuously deal, with things I will never experience. The injustice is clear … and so is the hate. It can no longer be explained away. If you’re still ‘explaining' it - check your heart and ask why.”

Swinney said that there is good news, if you look in the right place.

"We've had so much bad news. Everywhere you turn, there's bad news. Today I wanted to take a moment and offer some good news," Swinney said. "We all have a choice as to how we think, how we love, how we respond and how we forgive. There's no question these are challenging times, but what I've learned is when there is no challenge there is no change. We all have to accept the challenge."

Swinney, who isn’t on Twitter, said when he first saw what happened he would have probably said something he would have regretted.

"I'm glad I don't have social media, and my reaction would've probably been to get on social media and say something I regret," he said. "I'm not going to join Twitter to just make a statement on something. I could release a statement any time, but I just wanted to speak. It was just making sure I had my thoughts in a way that I think can be constructive."

Some in the national media have said that Swinney’s message missed the mark – they are used to his bold proclamations and opinions – but it’s those in the media who missed the point. Swinney realized this is about more than one blanket statement, that his words will likely not change anything.

What he can affect are the lives of the football player in his care and they can go out and change the world by showing love in their respective communities.

"We have a lot of great men who have come through this program that are creating wonderful change," he said. “There are three truths right now for sure, for this time. Love doesn't see color, hate does. Hatred has no heart, love does. Football teams and people in general, we have to accept each other and accept the differences that do exist.

“For me, my focus is my team and this staff and my prayer is that God will continue, as He has for the last 11 1/2 years, is that God will use this program to develop, to shape, to equip, to educate, and to raise up great men through the game of football that are going to go on in this world as great leaders and create wonderful change and bring love and wisdom to our country. That is my passion. That is my why and that is my focus. Our team is hurting, but we absolutely must come together."

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