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Lamont Wade’s T-shirt defends Penn State teammate who was criticized for his hair

Wade, one of the more outspoken Nittany Lions, showed support for teammate Jonathan Sutherland after Sutherland was criticized for his dreadlocks in a letter written by a Penn State alumnus.

Penn State football safety Jonathan Sutherland was criticized for his hair.
Penn State football safety Jonathan Sutherland was criticized for his hair.Read moreCRAIG HOUTZ / For the Inquirer

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- At the end of a week that featured a letter from a Penn State alum who was critical of co-captain Jonathan Sutherland and sharp reaction from the rest of the Nittany Lions, junior safety Lamont Wade summed up his feelings during the team’s warmups before Saturday night’s game against Iowa.

“Chains, Tattoos, Dreads, and ‘We Are,’ ” read the words printed in blue on Wade’s white T-shirt.

A video on Twitter later showed a member of the football program collecting the T-shirts.

Wade, considered one of the more outspoken players on the Nittany Lions football team, and his teammates did not like the letter that was made public on Monday. The letter, from Dave Petersen of Johnstown, Pa., criticized the dreadlocks that Sutherland sports and called them “awful hair” and “disgusting and certainly not attractive.”

Penn State players responded via Twitter Monday night and Tuesday, but Wade took issue about the description that the players were “fired up” about the letter.

“It was very disrespectful, just blatant disrespect,” he said during a Wednesday conference call. “It was not like we really care about that stuff because we don’t at all. It’s just the fact that there’s these people out here that have those ideas about us and what we do out there, and we’re not always put in the best light.

“I wasn’t fired up. We’re more than football players. We’re not just football players that are going to just sit there and be quiet and take everybody’s crap. But it’s going to be no distraction or nothing like that. We’re going to get our work done this week.”

Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin read a statement at his Tuesday news conference praising Sutherland and noting how football brings people together and “embraces differences.” Sutherland, a redshirt sophomore safety, called the letter’s message “degrading” but added that he forgave the writer.

Goose-egg is gone

Penn State was the last team in FBS not to allow a point in the first quarter, but that run ended when Iowa’s Keith Duncan kicked a 47-yard field goal with 2 minutes, 12 seconds left in the period.

Going into the game, the Lions had outscored their opponents, 69-0, in the opening 15 minutes.

Freshmen on the road

The Nittany Lions brought 14 true freshmen with them to Iowa, including Noah Cain and Devyn Ford, two of their four regular running backs who have rotated into the game all season. Each player played for one drive in the first quarter.

Franklin also allowed his two freshmen quarterbacks, Ta’Quan Roberson and Michael Johnson Jr., to accompany the team to the Midwest. Johnson also had taken the trip to Maryland, but Roberson stayed home.