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College Football

Jonathan Sutherland dismisses ‘degrading’ letter from Penn St. fan

Penn State is rallying around Jonathan Sutherland after a fan wrote a letter to him saying his dreadlocks “look disgusting,” and now the Nittany Lions safety has also reacted to the controversial correspondence.

Further, the fan in question who wrote the letter defended it, stating there was no racist intent behind his words.

After Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin called Sutherland “one of the most respected players in our program” and the “ultimate example of what our program is all about” during his weekly press conference, Sutherland later took to Twitter to address the letter that inspired the controversy.

Sutherland called the letter “degrading,” but insists he has taken “no personal offense” to it.

The letter in question was originally shared on social media Monday by defensive lineman Antonio Shelton, among other Sutherland teammates.

In the letter, the writer indicates he and his wife “…miss the clean cut young men and women from those days,” adding that “those shoulder length dreadlocks look disgusting and are certainly not attractive.”

The letter writer, Johnstown, Pa., resident Dave Petersen, was contacted by the Tribune-Democrat, and he insisted he doesn’t believe it contained racist overtones.

“Was not the intent at all,” Petersen told the Tribune-Democrat, via ESPN. “I would just like to see the coaches get the guys cleaned up and not looking like Florida State and Miami guys.”

Petersen added that his letter “wasn’t threatening or anything. I was just disgruntled about some of the hairdos that we’re seeing. You think of Penn State as a bunch of clean-cut guys. And you do see so many who are clean cut. But the tattoos and the hair – there are a lot of guys with hair coming down their backs and it just looks awful. And it’s the same for the NFL and NBA, too.”

Penn State previously condemned the letter, writing in a statement shared on social media that the university strongly condemns any message of intolerance.