Clemson’s Dabo Swinney can learn a lot from Mike Zimmer’s comments to Vikings players

Dabo Swinney, Clemson Tigers. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Dabo Swinney, Clemson Tigers. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Dabo Swinney can learn from Mike Zimmer’s statement.

While Clemson football players both present like Trevor Lawrence and past like DeAndre Hopkins defend Dabo Swinney over being tone-deaf and preaching Football Matters, he and several other college football coaches can take a lesson from Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.

Zimmer’s statement to his players had his team wanting to run through a wall for their head coach. Zimmer sympathized with his guys on a human level amid nationwide unrest from the death of George Floyd that’s seen four Minneapolis police officers charged.

Ameer Abdullah told the Star Tribune that Zimmer loves his players like sons and admits he didn’t understand their perspectives.

"“He said, ‘I don’t understand, and maybe I haven’t given this as much attention, but I love every single one of you guys and I’ll fight for you like you’re my sons.”"

It’s okay for Zimmer not to have all the right answers. He doesn’t need to have all the solutions. He just needs to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

This is the disconnect with Swinney and why many continue to criticize the two-time national champion for his statements, including a 14-minute video message of falling short.

Dabo Swinney can learn from Mike Zimmer’s comments to Vikings.

It’s okay for Swinney to admit he’s been wrong in how he’s approached things in the past, including keeping an instance of an assistant coach using the n-word during practice a secret for three years. He can learn from Zimmer who didn’t want NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem in 2016 after Colin Kaepernick started the protest against police brutality.

Zimmer changed and evolved. He stopped talking and he started listening.

Swinney would be smart to do the same. It’s good to change. It’s good to change your perspectives and sympathize with his players who experience life differently than him.

It’s gotta be hard for Swinney to think this isn’t the greatest country in the world. After all, he overcame poverty that saw him sharing a bed with his mother when he was a walk-on at Alabama to become the highest-paid coach in college football.

Swinney was the underdog his whole life but not anymore.

Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks said Zimmer couldn’t relate to being Black but it was important that he communicated how he’ll never understand.

“It was a big thing because he communicated to us that he does not understand,” Kendricks said. “He is not from the same background. He does not share the same skin. He can’t begin to relate with us, but he hears us and he’s there for us. He expressed that if we want him to get involved with anything that we have going on as a committee, that he’s right there with us.”

Swinney has been tone-deaf and said and done some things that made former Clemson players Tajh Boyd and Christian Watkins say they want their former coach to keep learning.

That’s what’s important for Swinney.

Swinney loves his players and that can’t be dismissed. He’s helped countless teenagers become men, husbands, fathers and role models. He’s listening and he’ll continue to learn, just like Zimmer showed is possible.

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