Penn State personnel confiscated T-shirts bearing the words “Chains, Tattoos, Dreads, & WE ARE” that Nittany Lions football players were wearing during the pregame portion of Saturday night’s game at Iowa.

According to a report by ESPN’s Holly Rowe, one player told her the shirts were made and worn as a show of support for safety Jonathan Sutherland, who last week received a letter from a Penn State alum that was critical of his appearance.

The players are “unified” behind Sutherland, Rowe said she was told. Penn State coach James Franklin was upset that his players did not discuss beforehand their intentions to wear the shirts, Rowe reported.

In the letter, the alum, David Petersen, wrote that Sutherland’s “shoulder length dreadlocks look disgusting.”

The story took on a life of its own, with Franklin issuing an impassioned defense of Sutherland at his weekly news conference.

“Jonathan Sutherland is one of the most respected players in our program,” Franklin said. “He’s the ultimate example of what our program is all about. He’s a captain, he’s a dean’s list honor student, he’s confident, he’s articulate, he’s intelligent, he’s thoughtful, he’s caring and he’s committed.”

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