Dear Dave Petersen,

It’s come to my understanding that you felt the need to write a letter to a Penn State player because of his hair. You felt that this player, by wearing dreadlocks, did not represent your alma mater.

You questioned whether or not the player had mirrors in the locker room, or whether he had parents or a girlfriend to talk him out of what you deemed a “disgusting” look that you claimed was “not attractive.” You went on to share that you no longer watch the NFL due to the “disgusting tattoos,” “awful hair” and “immature antics in the end zone.”

Well, Dave.

Maybe you should stop watching college football on Saturday, too. Might I suggest yelling at a cloud? Perhaps yelling at people to get off your lawn would be a more valuable use of your time.

You know, instead of writing a letter to a college kid to tell them that their hair is disgusting and not something you like to look at.

If I’m understanding you correctly, you’d like to go back to your generation when players were clean cut and were easier for you to look at. You wish that your beloved Penn State looked even more like the New York Yankees and not, say, every non-service academy college team in America in 2019.

Or perhaps I misunderstood you. In a follow-up interview that you did after getting blasted for the letter, you said there weren’t racial or cultural motives but that you “would just like to see the coaches get the guys cleaned up and not looking like Florida State and Miami guys.”

Dave, you probably don’t know what Twitter is, but just take offense when I say that you’re right there with the people who tweet at recruits. You might actually be worse.

Your idea of fixing the sport is preventing dreadlocks and tattoos from being allowed because it doesn’t align with your beliefs and how you interpret style. It looks different than when you were at Penn State back in the early 1960s. I know that college football wasn’t fully integrated then and that no African American players had ever even played in the SEC by the time you graduated from Penn State in 1966.

Dreadlocks, believe it or not, have become massively popular since the sport became fully integrated. And unlike mullets in the 1990s or frosted tips in the early 2000s, dreadlocks look like they’re here to stay. Plenty of girlfriends, parents and other human beings with eyeballs have accepted dreadlocks as a passable hairstyle and not rushed to judgment about how they represent a person or a university.

There are plenty of people, not just those who play football, who have dreadlocks in places of business. Speaking of that, you should probably know a couple of things about the Penn State player who you addressed the letter to.

Jonathan Sutherland, for one, is a human being and not just something you see wearing your alma mater’s colors on your TV on a given fall Saturday. He’s a human being who earned Dean’s List honors during his freshman year at Penn State. He’s currently working toward a degree in labor and employment relations with hopes of one day becoming a CEO.

This season, Sutherland’s teammates voted him a team captain. Why do that for someone who hasn’t ever started a game? Maybe because he takes an active role by doing the little things to show off his work ethic, like playing special teams. His dreadlocks didn’t prevent him from blocking a pair of punts against Idaho. Surely the coaching staff didn’t feel like the way he styled his hair showed poor representation of the university.

Oh, actually the university didn’t even feel that Sutherland was the poor representation of the university. They felt that you were:

You see, Dave, what you thought you were doing here was imparting your wisdom on a college kid. And look, I get it. You have probably close to four times as much life experience as Sutherland and anyone who wears a Penn State uniform. You thought that by sharing your interpretation of how athletes should look on a national stage, you were simply doing a confused young man a favor that he’d later appreciate.

What you didn’t realize was that you were horribly misguided in your assessment of the person who needs help.

Don’t they have mirrors in your home?


Connor O’Gara