The Penn State Nittany Lions football team announced they will omit the names of their players on the back of their jerseys to pay homage to a tradition that spans 125 years.
The Penn State Nittany Lions football team will omit names of its players on the back of their jerseys next season.
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The team made the announcement via an official press release on its official athletics website, GoPSUSports.com, on July 16. Removing the names of the players pays tribute to a Penn State football tradition that goes back 125 years.
The Nittany Lions began using names on their football jerseys in 2012 when former head men's football coach Bill O'Brien was still around, per GoPSUSports.com. The NFL's Houston Texans hired O'Brien to be their new head coach in Jan. 2014.
Current head football coach James Franklin and several lettermen met with members of the team on Thursday to inform them of the switch, per Penn State's official athletics website.
Franklin told a select group of players about the change before he informed the entire team, per The Centre Daily News' Jordan Rodrigue.
Among those who knew beforehand were holdovers from the 2011 team which include Ben Kline, Kyle Carter, Matt Zanellato, Anthony Zettel, Carl Nassib and Angelo Mangiro. They were part of the 2012 squad which wore featured names on its jerseys, per Rodrigue.
Additionally, the football program's 2015 poster has the slogan "Black Shoes. Basic Blues. No Names. All Game." as a tribute to Penn State's rich football history, per GoPSUSports.com.
This mantra first appeared in the Penn State Football Yearbook seven years ago, when the Nittany Lions won the Big Ten title, per their official athletics website.
Franklin discussed the slogan and the tradition of having no names on the backs of the Nittany Lions' football jerseys in a statement he issued on GoPSUSports.com:
"For 125 years, Penn State followed a very simple idea: 'Black Shoes. Basic Rules. No Names. All Game.'
"In 2012, for the first time in the program's history, names adorned the back of the jersey to forever identify the men who stayed loyal, sacrificed and chose to play for this institution during the most difficult of times.
"The 2012 team, permanently recognized in Beaver Stadium, will hold an enduring place in our program's history. Their commitment will never be forgotten.
"However, it's time we bring back the tradition that represented Penn State for 125 years. We are a strong family, playing for one goal, one university and there is only one name that truly matters -- Penn State.
Franklin told Rodrigue on Thursday the timing of the decision had to be carefully weighed out:
"I've thought about this from day one. I just thought that year one wasn't the right time to make this decision. There had been so much change and so much turnover in a short period of time.
"The way I describe it is, a good portion of our fans dug their heels in and fought when times got tough, and there were some people that distanced themselves. And what you hope is that maybe this is another opportunity, another example to pull those people back in and bring our family back together that's been fractured.
"I do think it's another step in the healing process for us. Restoring this tradition and history especially after getting through the scandal and the sanctions that once crippled Penn State, is another step in the right direction for the program.
"The fact that we have tradition to embrace, the fact that we have history to embrace, to hold on to, I think is valuable."
The Nittany Lions finished with a 7-6 (.536) win-loss record in the 2014 NCAA season, per Sports-Reference.com. They beat the Boston College Eagles, 31-30, in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 27, 2014.
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