A longtime head football coach who led his school to a Florida state title in 2017 was ousted on Wednesday after an investigation of his social media profiles showed him liking an offensive Tweet aimed at a fellow high school coach.
As reported by the Bradenton Herald-Tribune, John Peacock, an 11-year coaching veteran who led his school to a state title in 2017, was fired on Wednesday when he refused to resign from his position as coach. His dismissal followed an incident when one of Peacock’s players wrote an offensive Tweet questioning whether an opposing coach wore spray tan. No sooner than the coach liked the Tweet than he knew he could find himself in trouble.
As it turns out, that trouble was enough to end his career at a program he led to a state title in December. He also won two regional titles and six district titles across his 11 years at the helm.
For his part, Peacock insists that the Tweet he released was taken out of context. Here’s what he told the Herald-Tribune about his dismissal:
“I thought it was a joke about a spray tan bottle,” he said. “What if it was a hair product? Would that be racist as well?
“I think that with all the racial tension going around, especially the latest thing at Riverview … I think I had an inkling (firing) could be a possibility, but I think everyone who knows me, all the players I’ve had, I never had any issue as far as race. We have a melting pot in our locker room. We’ve never had any race issues in our locker room. Everyone loves each other. … I think anyone looking at that and using common sense knows that there wasn’t a racial undertone at all. I just think (Bradley) exploited that and used that to his advantage. It’s sad.
“I guess because (Bradley) was going to be pushing the race card that they decided (to fire me).”
According to Venice principal Eric Jackson, the truth is that a divorce between Peacock and the program had been coming. The issues that drove a schism between Peacock and the school included his players contacting a North Port High player through social media (illegally), North Port coaches having the visiting offices filled with toilet paper and diapers, and six rules violations from the 2010 season that forced Venice to forfeit all nine of its victories and a district title.
Despite the rough patches, Peacock left an indelible mark on the Venice program and school community, which he will continue to serve as a teacher despite the end of his coaching career at the school. A sense of gratitude for all he had done and accomplished there was echoed by Venice athletic director Pete Dombroski, among others.
“When it’s somebody everybody likes and cares about and appreciates and respects and you decide to move in another direction, it hurts,” Dombrowski told the Herald-Tribune. “It hurts deeply. I care about John. He’s a friend. I was there on the hiring committee when we hired him.”