Penn State Football Players Encouraged And Willing To Speak Out

PJ Mustipher Doesn't Want To Forget This Feeling

Eric Hagman
June 02, 2020 - 3:36 pm

    (93.7 The Fan) - Junior defensive tackle PJ Mustipher grew up in suburban Baltimore and by his own admission hasn't had to face the everyday challenges of some of his Penn State teammates who live in the inner cities.  That doesn't mean that Mustipher, who is black, chooses to be shielded from the racial tensions that have again gripped the country.

    "I'm not going to shy away from what's going on because we have to taste it if we're going to change it," Mustipher said on Tuesday. "People are tired of the multitude of injustices that are going on. I think it's showing.  I have a lot of respect and love for everybody who is out there doing what they can to change the culture of this country."

    Mustipher, who lists debating among his hobbies, spoke passionately about the need for people to come together.

    "I don't want this to be a one-week, a one-month thing.  I want this to be all-year round.  I want us to be talking about and doing something in the community.  What can we do to change things?  I want us to never forget this feeling we have right now."

    James Franklin is one of 14 African-American coaches in major college football.  He expressed his anger following the death of George Floyd in a strongly-worded statement on Saturday, saying "my heart is broken, my beliefs have been challenged" and he is "gutted by this nation's most recent tragedies and frustrated by our country's inaction."

    Mustipher said Franklin's statement resonated strongly with him.

    "For him to come out and make an impactful statement on a sensitive subject speaks volumes to people like myself, African-Americans, in the locker room.  If he can do it, then we can also do it."

    Franklin has always encouraged his players to voice their opinions..  Mustipher said that was again made clear during a discussion among teammates, coaches and others in the football organization this past weekend when Franklin took a step back and told everyone to speak their minds.

    "We had an open discussion for everyone in the Penn State (football) family," Mustipher said.  "We opened the floor up to everybody who wanted to say something about this and get everything off their chest. It included so many different people.  The floor was so open for everybody discussing it.  People were so comfortable, but people were also able to voice what they felt.  It was just a beautiful thing to see.  We can make a difference.  If we're able to have these discussions and go out into the community and make change, then that's what's really going to help us moving forward.  That's why that discussion was so vital." 

    Mustipher is hoping to be reunited with his teammates in Happy Valley soon.  At the same time, he offered a sobering thought about his black teammates.

    "Being together would be very important for us.  Individually, some guys might feel they're not safe, they're not in a good place.  If they were with us we would be able to comfort them."



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