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Trent Dilfer, who played quarterback in the NFL from 1994 through 2007 with the Buccaneers, Ravens, Seahawks, Browns, and 49ers, is currently the head football coach at Lipscomb University, a private, Christian liberal arts institution in Nashville. Recently, Dilfer’s sideline rant directed at tight end Beau Dawson went viral for all the wrong reasons. Dilfer put his hands on Allen, which is definitely going to lead to complications regarding his coaching career.
— Overtime (@overtime) August 28, 2021
After the video hit social media with the impact you’d expect, Dilfer released a statement via the school’s official Twitter account.
— Lipscomb Academy Football (@LAmustangFB) August 29, 2021
I want to address the incident on our sideline during Friday night’s game vs. Independence that has drawn a lot of attention. First and foremost, I take full responsibility as the head coach and leader of our team for not de-escalating an emotional situation with one of our players, Beau Dawson. Beau is one of our finest student-athletes and embodies all the characteristics we are looking for in our Mustang players. Beau plays the game with the right kind of passion and is an inspiration to our other players.
During a moment of frustration in an attempt to get our team to play with more discipline, I unfairly singled Beau out. Somehow Beau Dawson has been portrayed publicly as the culprit in this situation, when in reality I should have been a better leader and shown greater wisdom and discernment in how I handled this incident. Overall, I could not be more proud of Beau and the rest of our team for how they handle the emotional nature of each game they compete in.
It’s a pretty decent stretch from the coach Dilfer was in that moment to the coach making this statement, which implies damage control.
As for the statement, I’m not sure how Dawson is being portrayed as the culprit here; he’s a high-school kid being assaulted by a grown man in a position of leadership under the auspices of an institution of learning. And if Dilfer was “de-escalating” an emotional situation, what exactly was the emotional situation that had escalated in the first place? It would be good to know.
In December, 2020, Gerrel Williams, a Georgia youth football coach, was fired from his position and expelled from his football league after a video was released of Williams screaming at one of his nine-year-old players and slapping the child’s helmet and knocking the child to the ground. The child’s mother reportedly said that she did not want to press charges, but the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office in Florida sent an information report to the Department of Children and Families, and Osceola County Maj. Jacob Ruiz said that the decision had been made by the sheriff’s office and local state attorney’s office to file charges for child abuse, regardless of the parent’s wishes.
Dilfer didn’t knock Dawson to the ground, but he shoved the player, and there is no place for that at any level of coaching. Not when your players are nine years old, not when they’re in high school, not when they’re making $15 million per year in the NFL. There is simply no excuse for Dilfer’s actions in this case, and at the very least, he should be asked to do more than apologize for this incident. Perhaps some anger management courses would be in order. Perhaps Dilfer is a great coach who can impart the knowledge he has on his players. Perhaps Dilfer is also a coach who went far outside the bounds of discipline any coach in any sport should be able to implement.
And for those who insist that we’re all making too big a deal of it, that Dilfer did the right thing, and that the negative response is just another example of how America has gone soft — well, imagine Beau Dawson was your son. And if you’re still okay with it, take a minute and investigate why behavior that could be considered a Class A misdemeanor in the state of Tennessee is acceptable when it’s taken against your child — or any other child.
Dilfer, who is also the head coach of the Elite Eleven program, featuring the finest high-school quarterbacks in the country, might want to take a hard look at his motivational methods before he’s put in any more positions to lead young people in any capacity.