Clemson players: Fear of punishment from Dabo Swinney for skipping White House visit unfounded

On Tuesday, The Root reported that 15 of Clemson’s 57 black players from their national championship football team attended the Jan. 14 White House visit that came complete with a spread of fast food.

The rest reportedly declined, with anonymous players citing President Donald Trump, “racism” and “disdain for Trump’s divisive politics” as the reason.

Players confirm several black players skipped visit

On Wednesday, the Charleston Post and Courier cited a team travel roster that confirmed that 58 of the 74 attendees of the White House visit were white and that the only black starter out of 15 to attend was cornerback A.J. Tarrell.

Brothers J.D. and Judah Davis told the Post and Courier that they both declined the visit, but more for a scheduling conflict as they are training with their sights set on the NFL.

The Davis brothers also said that there was no direct pressure from head coach Dabo Swinney on players to attend that included threats to playing time or scholarships.

Some players reportedly worried about punishment

Sources in The Root report noted that the black players who did attend were predominantly young and fighting for playing time, insinuating that they believed that not attending would result in a penalty.

From The Root report:

“Not saying anything against the players who went,” the junior explained, “but if you look at who went — freshman and people fighting for playing time—you’ll see what I’m talking about.”

Judah Davis: Punishment fears ‘absurd’

“There was no talk of losing playing time or losing your scholarship,” Judah Davis told the Post and Courier. “That’s just absurd.”

Judah Davis did, however, say that Swinney encouraged all players to attend to present a united front.

Related: Donald Trump’s fast food feast for Clemson football team

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Donald Trump's fast food feast for Clemson football team
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Donald Trump's fast food feast for Clemson football team
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 14: (AFP OUT) U.S President Donald Trump presents fast food to be served to the Clemson Tigers football team to celebrate their Championship at the White House on January 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump talks to the media about the table full of fast food in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, for the reception for the Clemson Tigers. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 14: (AFP OUT) U.S President Donald Trump watches as candles are lit as he presents fast food to be served to the Clemson Tigers football team to celebrate their Championship at the White House on January 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
French fries and pizza are some of the fast food items for the reception for the Clemson Tigers in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 14: (AFP OUT) U.S President Donald Trump presents fast food to be served to the Clemson Tigers football team to celebrate their Championship at the White House on January 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 14: (AFP OUT) Members of the Clemson Tigers football team prepare to dine on fast food served by President Trump to celebrate their Championship at the White House on January 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 14: (AFP OUT) Members of the Clemson Tigers football team prepare to dine on fast food served by President Trump to celebrate their Championship at the White House on January 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump talks to the press about the table full of fast food in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, for the reception for the Clemson Tigers. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
White House ushers plate chicken nuggets from McDonalds, some of the fast food the US president purchased for a ceremony honoring the 2018 College Football Playoff National Champion Clemson Tigers in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, January 14, 2019. - US President Donald Trump says the White House chefs are furloughed due to the partial government shutdown. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
A the table full of fast food in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, is ready for guests attending a reception for the Clemson Tigers. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 14: (AFP OUT) U.S President Donald Trump presents fast food to be served to the Clemson Tigers football team to celebrate their Championship at the White House on January 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Guests select fast food that the US president purchased for a ceremony honoring the 2018 College Football Playoff National Champion Clemson Tigers in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, January 14, 2019. - US President Donald Trump says the White House chefs are furloughed due to the partial government shutdown. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 14: (AFP OUT) Members of the Clemson Tigers football team prepare to dine on fast food served by President Trump to celebrate their Championship at the White House on January 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump talks to the press about the table full of fast food in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, during a reception for the 2018 college football playoff National Champion Clemson Tigers. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Guests attending a reception for the Clemson Tigers grab fast food sandwiches in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Guests attending a reception for the Clemson Tigers grab fast food sandwiches in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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Swinney’s made his stances clear

Swinney has referenced his views on religion and politics in public, often citing God and the Bible in his public appearances while echoing Trump’s rhetoric on NFL social justice protests during the national anthem, telling reporters in 2016 of activists “some of these people need to move to another country.”

But according to J.D. Davis, any fear that declining to attend would result in retribution from Swinney was unfounded.

“Every year in camp, coach Swinney talks about how none of that will affect your playing time,” Davis told the Post and Courier. “Your political views, what your faith is, this is one of his quotes: ‘It’s not his job to put the best Christian on the field. It’s his job to put the best football players on the field.'”

“It doesn’t matter if you’re an atheist or a Christian, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. None of that is going to affect your playing time.”

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