A letter sent to Penn State football player Jonathan Sutherland by a white couple who chastised him for wearing shoulder-length dreadlocks went viral recently for its abhorrent racism. The conversation it caused though brought a lot of solidarity around the athlete.
On Saturday (October 12) during PSU football’s pregame warmups in anticipation for their game against Iowa, players wore shirts playing off the team’s rallying cry “We are. Penn State” reading “Chains, Tattoos, Dreads, & WE ARE.”
The shirts didn’t remain on the field for long, though, as staff members at the stadium approached the players to confiscate them.
ESPN reports that coach James Franklin wasn’t pleased with the players who wore the shirts, claiming that he didn’t plan for it. He also felt the shirts were an unnecessary move because the concern had already been addressed within the past week.
PSU statement on the pregame T-shirts— Josh Moyer (@ByJoshMoyer) October 13, 2019
"While we are supportive of our students expressing themselves in a thoughtful manner, they are expected to wear team-issued apparel on game day. We asked our students to remove the shirts out of an abundance of caution for NCAA compliance."
Penn State has issued an official statement saying they were concerned with NCAA violations:
"While we are supportive of our students expressing themselves in a thoughtful manner, they are expected to wear team-issued apparel on game day. We asked our students to remove the shirts out of an abundance of caution for NCAA compliance,” the statement reads.
While Franklin doesn’t support Sutherland’s teammates wearing the statement t-shirts, he has been supportive of Sutherland. The head coach held a press conference on Tuesday (October 8) responding to the racist letter and in support of the safety, calling the redshirt junior “the ultimate example of what our program is all about.”
If you missed reading the letter Jonathan Sutherland received, you can read it below.
Photo: Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images