STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (CBS) – The Penn State football community is responding after one of their star football players received a letter many are calling racist. The letter addressed to “Jonathan” was shared on Twitter by a teammate.
The writer, who describes himself as an older graduate, criticizes the player’s hair, saying his dreadlocks are “awful,” “look disgusting and are not attractive.”
One of my teammates got this. Explain to me how this isn’t racist. pic.twitter.com/Qms1F6DEEP
— Antonio Shelton (@_groovy55) October 7, 2019
The writer, who CBS Sports has identified as 1966 alum David Petersen, went on to say he misses when the team had “clean-cut young men.”
The letter was sent to No. 26, team captain Jonathan Sutherland, a key member of the Nittany Lions’ special teams unit. Sutherland responded to the letter with a tweet Tuesday.
— Jonathan Sutherland (@jay_suth) October 8, 2019
“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 tweeted.
Sutherland also said he forgives Petersen.
Penn State head football coach James Franklin responded to the letter Tuesday.
“The football that I know and love brings people together and embraces differences – black, white, brown, Catholic, Jewish or Muslim, 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. “Teams all over this country are the purest form of humanity that we have. We don’t judge, we embrace differences. We live. We learn. We grow. We support and we defend each other. We’re a family.”
The school’s official Twitter account tweeted back, writing: “While we don’t know the source of this letter or the authenticity, obviously its content does not align with our values. We strongly condemn this message or any message of intolerance.”