CLEMSON – Dabo Swinney is pretty good behind a pulpit, er, podium, and that was evident once again today during his weekly media gathering.
The assemblage didn’t seem enamored by the opportunity to delve into the intricacies of the South Carolina State offense, instead opting to solicit Swinney’s opinions on the more pertinent social topics of the day, including Colin Kaepernick’s recent compulsion to kneel rather than stand during the presentation of the national anthem.
And that precipitated a veritable “Sermon in the West Zone,” if you will.
“Everybody has a right to express themselves,” Swinney said. “But I don’t think it’s good to be a distraction to your team. I don’t think it’s good to use your team as the platform. I totally disagree with that.
“I don’t disagree with his protest, but I think there’s a right way to do things and I don’t think two wrongs make a right. Never have, never will. I think it just creates more divisiveness.”
Swinney suggested that perhaps Kaepernick, the backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers who pockets $19 million per year, should’ve simply called a news conference to elaborate on what he perceives are wrongdoings against minorities in this country.
“People will show up,” Swinney said. “Express your feelings. Talk about it. Go and be a part of things – that’s great. I certainly respect that right, but I just think that it creates more division.”
At that point, Swinney’s sermon took a turn.
“It’s sad to me to see what’s going on in this country,” he said. “I think this is a good world. I think this is a great country. It’s just that things get painted with a broad brush in this world these days. But there’s more good than bad in this world.”
Which prompted a couple of minutes devoted to Martin Luther King Jr.
“I don’t know that there’s ever been a better man, a better leader,” Swinney said. “To me, he changed the world through love in the face of hate. He changed the world through peace in the face of violence. He changed the world through education in the face of ignorance. And he changed the world through Jesus – and boy, that’s politically incorrect (today).”
Halfway through the oratory, I felt compelled to toss Swinney a handkerchief to wipe his brow.
“Y’all got me preaching today,” Swinney said.
Truth be told, it doesn’t take much on the media’s behalf to elicit such a result.
Swinney had snagged this pass – in considerably better fashion than most of his wide receivers over the past two Saturdays – and was bound for the end zone.
Swinney talked about his brother, a retired police officer who worked the night shift for 30 years, and about good cops and bad cops and bad football coaches and bad politicians and bad members of the media and bad church members and bad people throughout all segments of society.
“It’s so easy to say we have a race problem,” Swinney said. “I think we have a sin problem; that’s what I think. And I think the answer to our problems is exactly what they were for Martin Luther King when he changed the world – love, peace, education, tolerance of others, Jesus.”
Things are considerably better now, Swinney believes, pointing to a two-term African-American president, minority head coaches, black CEOs and NBA owners.
“Unbelievable,” Swinney said. “Now does that mean there’s still not problems? Yes, there are. But those were only dreams for Martin Luther King.
“Where there are people, whether they’re black, green, yellow, orange, white, there is going to be sin, greed, hate, jealousy, deceitfulness.
“But attitude, work ethic, love, respect for others – that doesn’t know any color. That’s what I love about football. It’s what I love about the game.”
If you don’t believe him, just ask.
But you’d better have 20 minutes to listen to his answer.
Scott Keepfer, The Greenville News