Clemson Tigers coach Dabo Swinney, who has been under fire for his “Football Matters” T-shirt and the use of the n-word by one of the coaches in his Tigers program, received some support from one of his former stars — DeAndre Hopkins.
The star receiver — who in March was traded by the Houston Texans to the Arizona Cardinals — took to Twitter on Wednesday to say his old coach is not a racist.
“One thing I do know Coach Swinney has never been a racist or had any ill will towards any player,” Hopkins tweeted. “Best coach I’ve ever been around from a football perspective and personal perspective. He helped me become a man and grow from being a kid from Central South Carolina.”
Hopkins — who played at Clemson for three seasons from 2010-2012 — and Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was in the Tigers’ program from 2014-16, recently joined a student petition to have the college remove the name of John C. Calhoun from the school’s honors college. Calhoun, who served as vice president under John Quincy Adams from 1825-1829, also enslaved 70-80 African Americans, according to his bio on the school’s website
“I felt this oppressive figure during my time at Clemson and purposely do not mention the University’s name before NFL games because of it,” Hopkins recently wrote in an Instagram post. “I am joining the voices of the students and faculty who have restarted this petition to rename the Calhoun Honors College. I urge all Clemson students, football players, and alumni to join us, so the next generation of young Black leaders can be proud of the institution they graduate from. Now is the time for change.”
As for Swinney, he defended himself and his program in a video on Monday posted on the school’s athletic department website.
Swinney, who led the Tigers to two national championships in 2016 and 2018, said his assistant Danny Pearman, who apologized for using the n-word in a conversation with DJ Greenlee during a 2017 practice, used the n-word, but did not call the linebacker the n-word. Greenlee later confirmed to The State newspaper that Pearman used the word, but did not call him it.
Swinney, who says he supports the Black Lives Matter movement, also explained in the video that he’s had the “Football Matters’ T-shirt for “a couple of years” after it was given to coaches by the National Football Foundation as a promotional item around 2014, adding the criticism was “an attack on my character” and “really sad.”