When Brent Venables saw Mike Jones’ tweets following the death of George Floyd on May 25, Clemson’s defensive coordinator knew his sophomore linebacker was hurting. So, Venables picked up his cell phone and he called Jones.
“It was really emotional. It was real,” Jones recalled of the conversation.
Jones knew he wanted to do something, but he wasn’t quite sure what or how. What he did know is that his position coach was reaching out to him to see how he could help, even if he did not quite understand it all.
“He was like, ‘Let’s do something. Let’s do it. I am all behind you,’ Jones said.
What Jones did was begin the plans for what was Saturday’s Clemson Community Peaceful Demonstration at Bowman Field. With assistances from teammates Darien Rencher, Cornell Powell and Trevor Lawrence, Jones started laying down the foundation that night on what turned out to be an event that attracted 3,000 friendly protestors to Clemson, as they came together to take a stance against racial injustice and police brutality.
Jones said having an informational and spiritual conversation with Venables meant the world to him because his coach took the time to call him and ask him questions so he can get a better understanding of what Jones and every black American is going through every day.
“He called me, and he was like, ‘Mike. I am so sorry. I just never understood. It would be hard for me to understand. I am a white man. How I am supposed to understand what you go through?’
“He acknowledged stuff like that with me,” Jones said. “He acknowledged that he wants to learn, and he wants to change. He wants it to be bigger than just him. He wants our whole community, our whole team, the whole country to change. That touched my heart because I see him as football [coach] Coach V, Jake’s dad! I know he is capable. I know Coach V loves me. To know that he loves me more than just being a football player. That meant the world to me. I really love Coach V.”
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