Two Penn State Nittany Lions football players on Monday shared a letter from alumni their teammate Jonathan Sutherland received about his hair that they denounced as racist.
Penn State defensive tackle Antonio Shelton and safety C.J. Holmes both shared the letter Sutherland received on Twitter that criticized the defensive back’s hairstyle. The letter asks Sutherland to cut his long dreadlocks to look more “clean-cut” like men from yesteryear.
“Surely there must be mirrors in the locker room! Don’t you have parents or girlfriend who’ve told you those shoulder length dreadlocks look disgusting and are certainly not attractive," the letter read.
“We congratulate you on your game against Pitt but you need to remember you represent all Penn Staters both current and those alumni from years past. We would welcome the reappearance of dress codes for athletes.”
The letter, which was signed by a Dave Peterson, finally says he and his wife have stopped watching the NFL “due to the disgusting tattoos, awful hair and immature antics in the end zone. Players should act as though they’ve ‘been there before.’”
Shelton and Holmes both condemned the letter.
“One of my teammates got this. Explain to me how this isn’t racist,” Shelton tweeted.
Holmes added: “my teammate got this in the mail today, and tbh Im at a lost for words.. I also have locs, Tats, and NFL dreams too, these messages can not be tolerated, this was extremely inappropriate, racially biased, and selfish to feel like you even have a right to send this message.”
According to Penn Live, Sutherland spoke about how his hairstyle originated.
“I’ve had my hair for like ten years now, going on ten years,” Sutherland said. “I feel like it’s become a part of my identity at this point. When I was a kid my mom just braided my hair one day and I just went with it.”
Neither Sutherland nor Penn State has commented on the letter.
Penn State is 5-0 this season and is set to take on Iowa on Saturday.