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Kline becomes social media sensation

Steve Heiser
717-505-5446/@ydsports

The language was blue, the uniform was white and the blood was red.

Dallastown High School graduate Ben Kline is shown here after a series of head butts with his Penn State teammates before the TaxSlayer Bowl. Kline wasn't wearing a helmet, but his teammates were.

Saturday, Dallastown High School graduate Ben Kline was transformed into a true rainbow warrior.

As a result, the Penn State linebacker has become a social media sensation.

Let's start from the beginning.

Kline has just finished up an injury-plagued career at PSU. Those injuries severely limited his playing time on the field.

Off the field, however, Kline thrived, excelling both in the classroom and in the community. He's an honors student who was involved in numerous charitable efforts in Happy Valley, most notably as the president of the PSU Uplifting Athletes Chapter, which annually sponsors the Lift for Life. That event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight cancer. He's also a member of the American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team and a nominee for a prestigious American Rhodes Scholarship.

Suffice it to say the guy is seriously smart and has a big heart.

He's also a committed Nittany Lion. He stayed on at PSU despite the Sandusky scandal, NCAA sanctions and multiple coaching changes.

Given that background, it would be fair to say that Kline, during his time in Happy Valley, was known more for using his head than his legs.

That would continue on Saturday, only in a much, much different way.

Before PSU's game vs. Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl, Kline decided he would pump up his teammates with a pre-game pep talk. Nothing strange there, especially for a senior and team leader in his final game.

Kline's language was peppered with the F-word, but it was still nothing out of the ordinary for fired-up athletes before a big game.

Then things spiraled into the truly bizarre.

Kline decided to head butt some of his teammates in a show of macho camaraderie. The only problem was, Kline wasn't wearing a helmet and his teammates were.

Five ferocious head butts later, Kline was bleeding profusely from his forehead and his uniform was soaked in blood.

The whole thing was caught on video and it quickly went viral, with tens of thousands of views on various social media sites.

Kline, apparently, wasn't the least bit embarrassed. He posted the video on his own Twitter site — @ben_kline38 — prefaced by the following statement: "Pretty much sums it up. (NSFW language)."

NSFW, for those not up to date with their social media jargon, means "Not Suitable for Workplace." That's a way of warning folks that the language is salty.

For obvious reasons, after the head-butting episode, the PSU athletic department announced that Kline would wear No. 39 for the game, instead of his traditional No. 38. Wearing a bloodied uniform in competition is a definite no-no these days.

Kline's actions drew varied Internet reactions. Some called him a "savage." Others referred to him an "animal." Still, others labeled him as "crazy."

It's clear, that in the emotion of the moment, Kline went over the top, especially in an era when concussions and their dangers are constantly in the news.

Luckily, he doesn't appear to have suffered any serious or long-lasting injuries from the incident.

That's a good thing, because Kline's future almost certainly won't be as a football player. Rather, he'll have to use his brains to make a living. Luckily, his overall PSU track record tells us that he has plenty to work with in that area.

That's despite the recent video, which provides some colorful evidence to the contrary.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.