The Penn State football program’s rejection of the racist letter sent to safety Jonathan Sutherland reached the field on Saturday, as players warmed up with custom-made T-shirts bearing a message.
The shirts’ message: “Chains, Tattoos, Dreads & WE ARE.”
PSU CB Lamont Wade warming up in a t-shirt that reads: Chains, tattoos, dreads & WE ARE pic.twitter.com/bLzY1C84Kj
— Audrey Snyder (@audsnyder4) October 12, 2019
According to the Daily Collegian, multiple players were seen wearing the shirts in pregame before the Nittany Lions’ game at Iowa.
The shirts are a direct response to the letter exposed online by Penn State defensive end Antonio Shelton earlier this week. The screed criticized Sutherland’s dreadlocks as “disgusting and certainly not attractive” and calling for a dress code for football players. That led to a program-wide outcry, with Sutherland later calling the message “rude, ignorant and judging.”
Penn State takes away shirts
According to ESPN’s Holly Rowe, the shirts were worn without the blessing of head coach James Franklin, who had vigorously defended Sutherland as “one of the most respected players in our program.”
The shirts were reportedly collected from the players by Penn State personnel after the players took the field. Penn State later released a statement claiming it had the players remove the shirts out of fear of an NCAA violation.
PSU statement on the pregame T-shirts
"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."
— Josh Moyer (@ByJoshMoyer) October 13, 2019
It’s hard to imagine the NCAA would have dared punish Penn State for such an expression, but then again, this is the entity that vacated a national championship because players borrowed their coach’s Subaru.
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