Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford said Tuesday morning that he received death threats via social media after the Nittany Lions suffered their first loss of the season to Minnesota on Nov. 9.
Clifford said he deleted his social media after the 31-26 loss.
“It’s kind of sad to say, but you know how some fans get. It gets a little crazy,” said Clifford, who threw three interceptions in the game. “I was, kind of, sick and tired of getting death threats and some pretty explicit and pretty tough-to-read messages.
“You learn how to deal with certain things and how certain people are going to react because it’s a very passionate game with a lot of passionate people. You know, our fans are definitely one of, if not the most passionate in the country. I just try to stay away from it. I appreciate all the positive people that are around, but there are also people that try to tear you down.”
Clifford declined to say whether he reported the death threats to authorities.
“I guess I’d rather not talk about the details of all of that,” Clifford said.
Coach James Franklin also declined to say whether police had been informed, but he said he was aware of the situation.
“I’m not going to get into a whole lot of it, but I was involved in it,” Franklin said. “I would hope I’m involved in any of these types of things where our players need support and then we make sure they get the right type of support.
“I don’t know where we are as a society. It’s concerning. We’re 9-1. We’re ranked in the top 10, I think. We’ve had a pretty good year based on most people’s standards, and sometimes you go on social media and you wouldn’t feel that way.”
Franklin said he thought the situation was emblematic of widespread problems away from the football field.
“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,” Franklin said. “You see some things from a violence perspective. You see some things from 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, going to elementary school, it’s just concerning.
“Obviously football is a very, very small piece, but I do think it’s a microcosm of a lot of issues that show up in our society. And I’m not sure why we accept it or why we think it’s OK. Whether you’ve had 14 Budweisers or not, I’m not sure why it’s OK or acceptable.”
The topic was broached when Clifford said he didn’t know until Tuesday morning that No. 9 Penn State (9-1) had been installed as a 19-point underdog for its marquee matchup with No. 2 Ohio State (10-0) on Saturday.
“To be honest with you, that was probably, that was the first time I heard anything about the point spread or anything like that,” Clifford said. “Throughout the week, I usually delete or take off my phone my social media and everything like that. So I really haven’t seen and paid attention to any outside sources.
“Just from a focus standpoint, I think that’s just better. I’ve learned that the less you’re on social media, seeing what people are saying, the better. That way, you can focus on yourself and what you need to do for your team that week.”