Sport

Penn State coach addresses fan criticism of player’s hair

Penn State coach addresses fan criticism of player’s hair”

Ralph Bolden #23 of the Purdue Boilermakers carries the ball against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the game on October 15, 2011 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.

The Penn State university community is rallying behind Nittany Lions safety Jonathan Sutherland after he received a racist letter from an "older alum" telling him to cut off his dreadlocks as it looked 'awful'.

The 1966 Penn State graduate did speak to The Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown and said it "was not the intent at all" to make a racial statement in his letter. The letter said Sutherland's shoulder-length dreadlocks looked "disgusting".

In February, players Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid reached a settlement over complaints that the league blacklisted them over their "take a knee" protests that began in 2016.

Penn State defensive tackle Antonio Shelton tweeted an image of the letter Monday, writing: "One of my teammates got this".

Former Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis shared on social media that he received messages with similar tones during his time with the Buckeyes.

Franklin denounced the letter in the opening statement of his news conference Tuesday. Rich or poor, rural or urban, Republican or Democrat. "Long hair, short hair, no hair, they're all in that locker room together", Franklin said.

Franklin's voice swelled with emotion as he continued, calling for the sport to be a unifying force in the state.

Many athletes and fans came to Sutherland's defense.

"Jonathan Sutherland is one of the most respected players in our program", the coach said. He's confident, he's articulate, he's intelligent, he's thoughtful, he's caring, and he's committed to the most supportive parents.

Sutherland himself responded a bit later in the day.

Nittany Lions teammate CJ Holmes posted it on Twitter on Monday, writing: "I also have dreadlocks, tattoos and National Football League dreams, these messages can not be tolerated". "At the end of the day, without any apology needed, I forgive this individual".

Penn State football has "110,000 fans from all different backgrounds, throughout our region, from all different parts of the state, and they're hugging and high-fiving and singing "Sweet Caroline" together", Franklin said.

"Don't be scared to be different!" he wrote.

Wyatt DuBois, a spokesman for Penn State, pointed PEOPLE to a statement issued earlier by Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour.

'Their dress, tattoos, or hairstyle has no impact on my support, nor does their gender, skin color, sexuality or religion! The letter condemned the long, flowing dreadlocks of junior safety Jonathan Sutherland, who is black.

"I've had my hair for like, 10 years now, going on 10 years". Teams all over this country are the purest form of humanity we have. "But I also know that our guys want to continue building what we're building from a football-specific perspective, and the way we do that is by sticking to our process and keeping things as consistent as we possibly can". "I was just disgruntled about some of the hairdos that we're seeing".

Two younger players on offense won the coaches' honors from the Purdue game, in true sophomore wideout Jahan Dotson and true freshman running back Noah Cain.

Journey Brown got the nod on special teams. Although Penn State's schedule so far hasn't been the most hard, it's still an excellent situation to be in because they have a young team. Penn State's next game is against Iowa, which ranks 17, on Saturday.



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