When Dabo Swinney said this past Monday, they as a team addressed the situation that happened three years ago between assistant coach Danny Pearman and former Clemson tight end D.J. Greenlee, the Tigers’ head coach was criticized by a lot of people in the national media.
Those in the national media called Swinney’s reasoning an “excuse” and were not satisfied with his answer. However, Swinney has never been one to bow down to the pressures of the media, his concern has always been about his players and what is best for his team.
On Thursday, while talking about Saturday’s Clemson Community Peaceful Demonstration, a couple of Swinney’s current players came to his aid in regard to how he addressed the racial slur Pearman said during a practice in 2017.
“We definitely addressed it. It is one of those things, as Coach Swinney has said. Obviously, it was not right,” reserve running back Darien Rencher said. “Everybody is learning from this, so it obviously got brought up during a very heightened sense of racial tension. So, I think the relationship between those two men, D.J. and Coach Pearman, I have seen them interact over the past three years. So, that is the part where I feel like it really happened between those two guys.”
Pearman released a statement the day the news broke on June 2 about what happened during that practice in 2017, while Swinney spoke about it on Monday during a 14-minute video where he covered a bunch of topics after watching his character and his program being attacked over and over again last week.
Clemson wide receiver Cornell Powell said people should look to Pearman and Greenlee’s relationship, as well as Pearman’s relationship with Greenlee’s father, Larry Greenlee, who is the associate strength and conditioning coach in Swinney’s program and has worked with Swinney at Clemson since 2003.
“Coach Pearman’s and D.J. Greenlee’s relationship should speak volumes to that situation,” Powell said. “Obviously, it happened, but their relationship and how they continue to interact and communicate, and D.J. still comes back to the games. As [Darien Rencher] said, our strength coach is still on staff.
“Everything is still intact with those three individuals who are directly involved, and that just shows that, yes it was said, but it’s deeper than that. Those three men, they took care of it and they moved on from it.”
Rencher, who was a freshman on the 2017 team, said no one really knew about what happened until it got whispered out.
“I think they figured out how to do it right and it was just a really sticky situation for it to come out now with everything going on,” Rencher said. “I think it painted a bad light, like Coach Swinney did not handle it in the best way or like D.J. and Coach Pearman had a bad relationship.
“So, I would say it was definitely addressed and even in that sense, I think topics like that our kind of touchy. We were able to talk about it behind the scenes in a way that gave all of us perspective. I think that was the beauty of Coach Swinney’s conversation. That night was a family talk. We don’t need to share everything that goes on in our family, but at the same time we had a family talk and I think it was good.”
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