HARRISBURG, Pa. — Penn State linebacker Jason Cabinda is the defensive captain of the reigning Big Ten champions. He’s also one of the most active players on the team on Twitter.
Cabinda used the social media platform Monday to speak out against racism, and revealed Tuesday an incident involving racism led to the beginning of his youth football career. Penn State coach James Franklin is also very active on Twitter, and said he has no problems with Cabinda, or his teammates, speaking out on social media.
“I’m good with it. I really am,” Franklin said Tuesday during the Penn State Coaches’ Caravan. “I think it’s a positive. It allows [people] to get to know these guys on a different level. But I do think it is something they have to be careful about. Before they press send, they have to think about what they’re saying and how it may be interpreted and make sure they are comfortable with that. Once they’ve done that, press send.”
Cabinda was commenting Monday on a tweet about people standing with Confederate flags and shouting racial slurs in New Orleans.
Incredible… and y'all wonder why we get mad when we see confederate flags smh…. https://t.co/v4K6s1TAzM
— Jason Cabinda (@jasoncabinda) May 8, 2017
There were replies to Cabinda’s tweet both in support of his take and in support of the people yelling the racial slurs. A few of his teammates and Penn State commitments in the 2018 recruiting class retweeted or liked Cabinda’s tweet.
The following day, Cabinda pointed his followers to a thread of tweets about a father grappling with how to handle his son getting into a fight after the boy was called a “black piece of [expletive].”
Cabinda pointed out that a fight from his youth, which started because another kid called him a racial slur, was what motivated his mother to enroll him in youth football.
Thread…. won't forget being suspended in 3rd grade for fighting after being called the N word. Mom put me in football after as an "escape" https://t.co/DmNuDutlXw
— Jason Cabinda (@jasoncabinda) May 9, 2017
Many other Penn State players are also active on Twitter. Recently, quarterback and offensive captain Trace McSorley had some fun with a Wisconsin fan after the guy asked him about a big hit from the Big Ten championship game.
Other head coaches at major college football programs have not had the same reaction when players on the team used social media to say things they might not in a typical media session. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has banned his entire team from using Twitter on multiple occasions. ACC rival Clemson has done it as well.
“I want our guys to express themselves,” Franklin said. “I think that’s really important. Obviously the thing that he’s expressing himself about is something that most people would align and agree with. I don’t think racism, there are too many people would agree that’s a positive thing in our society. I think where it becomes difficult is when they speak out about something that isn’t aligned with societal views. Once again, I want them to do those things, but I want them to do it in an appropriate way, being respectful. I think most of our guys have done a good job with that.
“Jason is a strong-minded, strong-willed, opinionated guy. He’s got some of the more natural leadership skills that I’ve ever been around. I’ve been very pleased with Jason’s development and his growth.”