Trevor Lawrence defends Dabo Swinney's 'Football Matters' shirt; NFF to change program's name

Sporting News

Dabo Swinney faced criticism Saturday night when an image of him wearing a shirt that read "Football matters" started to spread on social media.

The image was uploaded by Twitter user OUsooner2010, who posted it with the following caption: "Met Dabo today for the first time ever at the Reserve today and even though I went to Oklahoma for my undergrad, he really is a great dude and nice as can be. Thanks for the pic coach!"

The user later deleted the tweet, explaining to another user, "[I] just don’t appreciate my family’s faces being plastered everywhere when it’s just an innocent picture that WE asked for."

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The reason many felt the shirt was controversial is because they viewed it as an opposing message to Black Lives Matter. Rather than support that movement, some felt Swinney was making a statement by saying "Football Matters." Others also felt that while Swinney may not have been opposing the Black Lives Matter movement with his shirt, he should have recognized the optics before wearing it.

The shirt was also just another element to outrage toward Swinney as he remained silent regarding the alleged use of a racial slur by one of his assistant coaches.

Some speculated the shirt could be in relation to the National Football Foundation (NFF), which sponsors Football Matters. Some wondered if it had something to do with Swinney's speech in 2017 when he was speaking in front of South Carolina lawmakers.

"Football matters," Swinney said in 2017. "It matters. I tell people all the time when I go speak. Football matters. It's one of the last great positive influences in young people's lives. They don't get it in their music, their social media. They don't get it in a lot of other areas, but in the game of football, it's still hard work."

As the tweets began to come in, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawerence decided to defend his coach by saying the shirt had nothing to with the Black Lives Matter movement.

While Lawrence's response led to some people backing off, others still weren't satisfied.

The NFF said in a statement Sunday on Twitter that it will change the name of Football Matters "for the 2020-21 season and beyond."

This article has been updated with NFF's statement.

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