During their pregame warmups, Penn State football players wore shirts in that supported teammate Jonathan Sutherland, who received a letter from an old white couple that chided him for his shoulder-length dreadlocks. The shirts played off of the team’s rallying cry and read “Chains, Tattoos, Dreads, & WE ARE.” However, these shirts didn’t remain on the field for long as Penn State staff members soon approached players to confiscate them.
ESPN’s Holly Rowe reported that coach James Franklin wasn’t pleased with the decision to wear the shirts saying, “Hey, I’m just upset that we didn’t talk about it. The players did this on their own.” He added that he felt this was an unnecessary move because this concern had already been addressed this past week.
But while Franklin’s concern was his players doing something of their own free will, the university made it clear that their main concern was NCAA violations.
Franklin has been supportive of Sutherland since the player received the letter. He held a press conference on Tuesday where he called the redshirt junior “the ultimate example of what our program is all about.”
All things considered, the shirts were rather tame in their response. The letter Sutherland received bemoaned the old days of “clean cut young men and women,” and said the player’s dreadlocks were “disgusting and are certainly not attractive.” Unsurprisingly, the guy who wrote this has taken the time to pen some other awful opinions.
The confiscations didn’t seem to affect the players once game time arrived, as the Nittany Lions were able to defeat the Hawkeyes 17-12.