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Rece Davis ‘Couldn’t Have Been More Impressed’ With James Franklin, Jonathan Sutherland’s Response To Racist Letter

College GameDay host Rece Davis talked about his feelings on the racist letter Penn State safety Jonathan Sutherland received from an alumnus during a pre-GameDay media availability on Friday.

Davis, who’s the host of ESPN’s flagship Saturday morning football show, was particularly impressed with head coach James Franklin and Sutherland’s response to the letter that he gave at a press conference last week .

“Whenever someone is put in a position as Jonathan and James were, can you respond with grace and class,” Davis said. “I think both of those guys epitomized that. Any player wants to go and play for a coach who has their back no matter what. It was an easy choice for James to defend [Sutherland], but to do it in the manner in which both of them did and to be strong in their counter and still take the high road — I couldn’t have been more impressed.”

Davis was very critical of Dave Petersen — the Penn State alumnus who authored the letter — on College GameDay’s broadcast last week. He said that Petersen should write two more letters — an apology to Sutherland and a public apology for embarrassing Penn State — and he also praised the Nittany Lions and their fans’ response to the letter.

The host was much more dialed-back during his media availability on the HUB lawn.

“I’m not casting dispersions at the man who wrote [the letter], but it was an ignorant thing to write,” Davis said. “His choice [to write it] was ignorant, dumb, hurtful, and beyond embarrassing for him, his family, and I’m sure Penn State was embarrassed to be connected to that.”

In the letter, Petersen said Sutherland’s “shoulder length dreadlocks look disgusting and are certainly not attractive.” According to the letter, he and his wife “miss the clean cut young men and women” that played sports in the past, and he also said that they stopped watching NFL games “due to the disgusting tattoos, awful hair and immature antics in the end zone.”

“We congratulate you on your game against Pitt but you need to remember you represent all Penn Staters both current and those alumni from the past,” Petersen wrote. “We would welcome the reappearance of dress codes for athletes.”

Sutherland’s teammates quickly came to his defense on Twitter and in interviews with the media following Antonio Shelton’s initial tweet about the letter.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a sophomore majoring in journalism and is Onward State's assistant sports editor. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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