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."
It appears the tweet was deleted. Here you go. pic.twitter.com/wwcuEWZ8dh
— Elika Sadeghi (@elikasadeghi) June 6, 2020
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.
Dabo wearing a shirt that says on the day of the biggest protest in history, without addressing recent news concerning an assistant coach using a racial slur at practice... Yikes!
— Beat 2020 (@BeatClem) June 6, 2020
No, I don’t believe there was malicious intent with Dabo’s shirt. He means well. He’s a good person.
Still, the level of tone deafness we’ve seen in the last ten days is alarming. A total lack of self awareness.
If you’re a a Clemson fan and can’t admit this, ask yourself why.
— Marc Ryan (@MarcRyanOnAir) June 7, 2020
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.
Coach Swinney’s shirt, in any way, is not mocking the Black Lives Matter movement. He has been wearing the shirt for months in meetings.
— Trevor Lawrence (@Trevorlawrencee) June 7, 2020
While Lawrence's response led to some people backing off, others still weren't satisfied.
I don’t think anyone’s saying he’s mocking BLM as much as it being tone deaf to wear right now, and a bad look given his inability to unequivocally express support where it’s needed most. It’s a shame he can’t express anything like what you eloquently did.
— Elika Sadeghi (@elikasadeghi) June 7, 2020
except...what's the basis of that shirt is? it seems based on the "_____ lives matter" campaigns, which are "black lives matter" and a bunch of slogans that are intended to dismiss black lives matter.
if he's had it for months, he may have been mocking blm for months, too. https://t.co/5thVzG2WSa
— bomani (@bomani_jones) June 7, 2020
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."
A statement from the National Football Foundation pic.twitter.com/TvyoaUEUOS
— Football Foundation (@NFFNetwork) June 7, 2020
This article has been updated with NFF's statement.