Penn State coach James Franklin denounced Tuesday a letter to one of his players that members of the team interpreted as racist.
Security Jonathan Sutherland received a critical letter from a Penn State alum. His appearance and his "shoulder-length (sic) dreadlocks look disgusting."
"Jonathan Sutherland is one of the most respected players in our program," said Franklin at his weekly press conference to defend his player. "He's the ultimate example of what our program is all about, he's a captain, he's a dean's honorary student, he's confident, he's articulate, he's intelligent, he's thoughtful, he cares and he's committed
"He has two of The Most Supportive Parents and I would be so blessed if my daughters one day marry someone with his character and integrity.
Dave Petersen's letter from Johnstown, Pennsylvania criticizes Sutherland's hair, looks and demeanor Petersen said in the letter that he and his wife "… miss the clean young men and women of those days. When we saw the Idaho game on TV, we could not help but notice your ̵
Petersen also wrote that although he believes Sutherland will" someday "play" on Sunday "" stopped seeing the NFL because it was disgusting, tattoos, terrible hair and immature antics in the endzone.
Sutherland's teammates, including defender Antonio Shelton made public the letter on social media, and it has since become viral.Shelton's tweet had over 13,700 retweets and 46,200 likes on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.
In his own Twitter statement, Sutherland described Petersen's opinions as "humiliating," but said he had "no" person al offensense. "
! 1945 pic.twitter.com/9DmM0Cs9Fh
– Jonathan Sutherland (@jay_suth) 8 October 2019
The Tribune Democrat, a newspaper in Johnstown, spoke to Petersen about the letter and how it has spread widely on the Internet. Petersen said he had not intended the letter to contain a racist message.
"Was not the intention at all," Petersen told the Tribune Democrats. "I just want to see the coaches clean up the boys and not look like the guys from Florida and Miami." Petersen added, his letter was "not threatening or anything." I was just upset about some of the hairstyles you see Penn State as a bunch of clean-cut guys, and you see so many who are clean-cut, but the tattoos and the hair – there are many types with hair down "
Whether it was Petersen's intention or not, the football players of Penn State have taken the letter as an attack on her and her person. It just looks awful. And so it is for the NFL and the NBA. "
Penn State University responded to the letter via Twitter and said that the university strongly condemned the news or a message of intolerance, a university spokesperson told ESPN that school officials were alerted to the letter via Twitter and stand behind the athletes of their students.
"At Penn State, we seek to create an atmosphere that fosters inclusivity and respect," the spokesman said. "The well-being of students, faculty and employees has priority for the university. As part of this, Penn State provides a range of assistance and resources to students and staff, and we encourage every community member who needs support to make contact. "
Franklin repeated the University's message in his press conference on Tuesday, saying it Penn State's community and football program for inclusion and bringing people together are all different parts of the state and they hug and sing 'Sweet Caroline' together, "said Franklin. "This is my football, this is the game I love and most of all the players I love and that I will defend like sons."