Penn State alum criticizes Black football players dreadlocks in viral letter

Penn State football coach James Franklin on Tuesday condemned a letter reportedly penned by a university alumni that was sent to one of his Black players, Jonathan Sutherland.

In addition to a bevy of other offensive remarks, the alleged alumni referred to Sutherlands dreadlocks as disgusting and certainly not attractive.

Franklin responded to the letter during a weekly press conference: The football that I know and love brings people together. It embraces differences: Black, white, brown; Catholic, Jewish or Muslim; rich or poor, rural or urban, Republican or Democrat. Long hair, short hair, no hair. Theyre all in that locker room together.

Jonathan Sutherland is one of the most respected players in our program. Hes the ultimate example of what our program is all about, he later added. Hes a captain. Hes a Deans List honors student. Hes confident, hes articulate, hes intelligent, hes thoughtful, hes caring, and hes committed. Hes got two of the most supportive parents, and I would be so blessed if my daughters would marry someone with his character and integrity one day.

Franklins response comes after fellow athlete Antonio Sheltonshared a photo of the letter sent to Sutherland.

One of my teammates got this. Explain to me how this isnt racist,Sheltontweeted.

Penn State responded to Sheltons tweet, saying it could not verify the source of the letter, but insisted its content does not align with our values.

Its no shock the school is distancing itself from the letterwhich ESPN confirmed was written by Johnstown, Pennsylvania, resident Dave Petersensince its content is pretty damning.

Though the athletes of today are certainly superior to those in my days; we miss the clean cut young men and women from those days, Petersen wrote. Watching the Idaho game on TV we couldnt help but notice your well awful hair. Surely there must be mirrors in the locker room! Dont you have parents or girlfriend whove told you those shoulder length dreadlocks look disgusting and are certainly not attractive.

You will certainly be playing on Sunday in the future but we have stopped watching the NFL due to the disgusting tattoos, awful hair and immature antics in the end zone, he added.

Petersen latertold the Tribune-Democrathe did not intend for his letter to have a racist message. Rather, he said, his letter wasnt threatening or anything. I was just disgruntled about some of the hairdos that were seeing. You think of Penn State as a bunch of clean-cut guys.

Despite his mediocre apology, Sutherland wrote on Twitter he took no personal offense to the letterthough he found Petersens remarks degrading.

Sutherland added that even though he hasnt received an apology, hes already forgivenPetersen.

Let this be one of the many examples to us that in the year 2019, people of different cultures, religions, and ethnicities are still being discriminated against and it needs to stop, Sutherland wrote. Dont be scared to be different!!

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