Penn State player apologizes for 'extremely selfish' behavior at Michigan State

(Allentown) Morning Call (TNS)
Antonio Shelton

Penn State’s Antonio Shelton apologized after being ejected from Saturday’s game at Michigan State, where ABC cameras caught him spitting on a Spartans player.

Shelton, a defensive tackle, received an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty in the fourth quarter of what Penn State coach James Franklin called an “emotional” game. On Twitter, Shelton called his behavior “extremely selfish.”

“I misrepresented my coach, my school and my team,” Shelton wrote. “That’s not who we are and that’s not who I am. I represent more than myself, this won’t happen again.”

Penn State was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct three times in the fourth quarter of its 28-7 victory, an occurrence Franklin called uncharacteristic. Several Penn State players said that the game was “chippy," which Franklin said did not excuse the penalties.

The coach added that he had a “direct conversation” with players about the lapses after the game.

“I’m not going to make excuses,” Franklin said. “We’re going to own it all. That’s now who we are. That’s not who we will be.”

Penn State entered the game ranked 14th nationally in fewest penalties per game (4.7). The team was called for nine penalties and 104 yards Saturday, both season-highs.

But the Lions average 11.1 yards per penalty, meaning they’re receiving high-impact flags, such as the personal fouls and pass-interference calls. Franklin said that doesn’t represent his intended style of play.

“I can be criticized for a lot of things … but I don’t think that’s one,” Franklin said. “We play a disciplined style of football around here.”

Shelton, a redshirt junior, is among the team’s more vocal and popular players. Franklin said last week that Shelton, who conducts the defensive line’s pregame breakdown, isn’t afraid to “speak his mind, which I think is really good.”

“He’s not a guy that’s afraid to come into my office and have an honest conversation with me,” Franklin said. “I want more of that.”

On a conference call last week, Shelton said he always has been vocal, growing up in a house where that was encouraged. Shelton was among the Penn State players who posted a letter online earlier this month that called teammate Jonathan Sutherland’s dreadlocks “disgusting.”

“I wasn’t trying to create a spectacle or make something out of nothing,” Shelton said. “I was just trying to identify the fact that this is wrong and it shouldn’t happen to anybody, but it happened to somebody who I care about, somebody who I respect, somebody I consider to be a brother of mine. I don’t mind putting myself out there to defend others when I feel like injustice has been done.”