Maybe It's Time For Dabo Swinney and Roger Goodell to Retire Their 'Football Matters' T-Shirts

Stephen Douglas
Dabo Swinney
Dabo Swinney / Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
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America is a little on edge right now. So you can understand why people might wonder what's up with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney wearing a shirt that says "FOOTBALL MATTERS" right now. It was probably nothing, but the fact that people saw it and wondered if it was something, well, it might matter.

Football Matters is not a new thought for Swinney who said it multiple times in a speech at the South Carolina State House in 2017. Still, when a picture of Swinney wearing the shirt appeared online in June 2020, enough people wondered why that Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence jumped to Swinney's defense, saying he'd been wearing the shirt for months.

Football Matters is an National Football Foundation organization with an official tire sponsor. There is a Football Matters Twitter that has been active since January 2018. In April, while promoting the NFL Draft, Roger Goodell wore a Football Matters shirt in an interview with CBS This Morning.

So, what's up with that? Would the NFL really be so brazen in dismissing Black Lives Matter and potentially antagonize the majority of their players? Is it just a coincidence? It's not like this t-shirt, which is blatantly, 100% parodying Black Lives Matter.

When Black Lives Matter began in 2013, no one received a patent on things mattering. It's reasonable to believe that the NFF would have come up with this exact campaign under other circumstances. There are enough people saying the sport is too dangerous to exist that it would warrant those who love it to proclaim that football does matter.

And this is where football people could simply weigh pros and cons. What does Dabo Swinney lose by no longer wearing that t-shirt? What does anyone lose by changing some branding on something that the general public isn't even familiar with? You can set up a new site called I Love Football or Football Rules or something else which is just as generic, but doesn't make people stop and wonder.

Maybe in retrospect, at this point in history, with so many in the world fighting for the rights of black people, maybe they should have left this title on the drawing board. There are other ways to say how important football is without people wondering if the person wearing the shirt is making fun of something that actually means something to so many people.

The league showed a new willingness to change and listen this week. The next step is actually doing something. They can go right for the big one - changing the name of that team in Washington - or they can start smaller by distancing themselves from things that could misconstrued. They can start with getting rid of an old t-shirt.

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