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Penn State Football: Clifford Received Death Threats, Quarterback Says; Franklin Reacts

by on November 19, 2019 2:38 PM

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford revealed on Tuesday morning during a weekly teleconference that he had received death threats follow the Nittany Lions' loss to Minnesota.

“I completely deleted it,” Clifford said of his social media accounts on his phone. “I usually delete it closer to games, but I completely deleted it after the Minnesota game. It's kind of sad to say but you know how fans sometimes get. It gets a little crazy. I was kind of, I guess, sick and tired of getting death threats, and some pretty explicit and pretty tough-to-read messages. 

“But you know, you learn how to deal with certain things and, and how certain people are just gonna react because you know, it's a very passionate game with a lot of passionate people. You know, our fans are, are definitely one of, if not, the most passionate in the country. I just try to stay away from it. I appreciate all of the positive people that are around, but there’s also people that try to tear you down. It’s always just been better to keep your head away from that kind of stuff.”

Clifford threw three interception during Penn State's first loss of the year and had his least efficient outing of the season. Both Penn State and Clifford bounced back this past weekend with a victory over Indiana to improve the Nittany Lions' record to 9-1 with three games left on the schedule.

Asked about the Tweets and feedback in general Penn State coaches and players have gotten over the course of the season, coach James Franklin offered up a long train of thought during his weekly Tuesday afternoon press conference.

Franklin's full comments can be read below.

"I don't know. I don't know where we are as a society," Franklin said. "It's concerning. We're 9-1. We're ranked in the top 10 I think. Have had a pretty good year based on most people's standards. Sometimes you go on social media and you wouldn't feel that way. The fact that our players are having to deal with stuff like this..."

"Remember before I got here, we had a little bit of an issue with Sam Ficken. It's not just our fan base, it's all over. I think a little bit of going to this playoff model that we're in now I think has had an impact on it a little bit. I think the fact that everybody kind of has a voice and everybody has the ability to contact others, it's concerning."

"But I don't know if I necessarily have the answers. It's concerning. You see it everywhere. We laugh about it, not this incident, but I think the Eagles won the Super Bowl, the next game at halftime they're getting booed. We laugh about those type of things."

"I don't know. I don't know if I have an answer for it. But it's troubling, there's no doubt about it. It's troubling. I think it's concerning for all of us. I think that's sometimes where I maybe get upset sometimes and maybe I shouldn't, and I ask you guys some questions, that's kind of where these things are coming from."

"I know the power that you guys have. I don't want you guys to take that the wrong way. I'm just saying that's kind of where we are right now. Things get extreme. You hate to see it, but the sad thing, it's a part of our reality of our society right now. You see that in a lot of areas."

"The last thing I want to do is get into other things besides football right now. But you see a lot of things that are behaviors in our society now that we accept that I don't know why we're accepting. You see some things from a violence perspective. You see some things that people in positions, how they're conducting themselves. Just a lot of things that we're accepting in our society that we would never have accepted before, the things that parents have to worry about kids going to school, elementary schools. It's just concerning."

"Obviously football is just a very, very small piece, but I do think it's a microcosm of a lot of other issues that show up in our society. I'm not sure why we accept it or why we think it's okay. Whether you've had 14 Budweisers or not, I don't see why it's okay or acceptable."

Tuesday's news is the second off-the-field storyline this season with players in the crosshairs. Earlier this year safety Jonathan Sutherland received a latter requesting that he cut his long hair. Franklin had a similarly long and passionate statement defending both his program and his players.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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