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Swinney Shares Message of Hope, Change Following Floyd Death

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney shared his first thoughts on the death of George Floyd and the events that have followed Monday. Swinney wants his team to continue to be a catalyst for change.

Dabo Swinney expressed Monday a message of hope and change following the death of African-American George Floyd and the unrest nationally since.

The Clemson head coach addressed the media during a nearly 40-minute press conference to offer his condolences and to “express myself properly” instead of releasing just a statement.

“We are all hurting for the Floyd family and our country,” Swinney said. “I can speak for our entire staff and our team in that regard for sure. We have all witnessed disgusting acts of evil. That’s the only word I can appropriately use over the past recent week here and beyond.”

Floyd died last Monday after being violently apprehended by Minneapolis police. 

Swinney spent much of his time Monday reacting to the events, the injustice and the racism by leaning on his faith and his relationship with God. He said that gives him peace, hope and perspective.

“Where there are people there is going to be hate,” Swinney said. “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...but really today, I just wanted to take a moment and offer some good news. For me, the good news is we have a Lord that loves us all and that has conquered already.”

These are the first words Swinney has released on this matter. He said he is glad he doesn’t have social media so that he doesn’t say things he would regret. 

Instead, he took the last week to listen and form his thoughts while consulting with his players and coaching staff.

“Love doesn’t see color. Hate does,” Swinney said. “Hate has no heart. Love does. Football teams, and just people in general, we have to stick together. We’ve got to respect each other and we’ve got to accept the differences that do exist.”

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Swinney wants to use the platform football has given him and his team to be an example of love, respect, attitude, kindness, humility, service, faith and forgiveness. He hopes that's what people have seen in the Clemson program for the last 11 years and what they’ll continue to see in hopes of making real change through helping develop “great men.”

“Our team is hurting,” Swinney said. “We absolutely, absolutely, absolutely must come together.”

The coaching staff has spent the last week supporting the players, who began returning to campus this week. They’ll continue that process with “open and transparent” conversations that he hopes will “sow some great seeds and all grow from this.”

While college coaches, sports figures and leaders began releasing messages last weekend as protests and riots occurred in cities all over the country and the state of South Carolina, Swinney waited.

He said it wasn’t a matter of if he would address those matters, but when.

“I can release a statement at any time, but I really wanted to speak and I wanted (the media) to hear my voice and I wanted to give you an opportunity to ask me questions. I’ve tried to always be honest, open and transparent.”

Swinney said he’s aware he’ll be criticized when he does speak and when he doesn’t. He was outspoken in 2016 when former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled in protest of police brutality. Swinney disagreed with the manner of the protest and said “some people need to move to a different country.”

“That was probably a harsh statement for sure,” he said Monday.

Always an optimist, Swinney still believes in the good in people and that this is an opportunity for real change.

“There’s no question these are challenging times, but what I’ve learned is where there’s no challenge, there’s no change,” Swinney said. “We have to all except the challenge and all help to bring about change and positive growth.”