JONESBORO, Ark. — After receiving a complaint from a local lawyer, Arkansas State University’s Red Wolves football team replaced cross-shaped helmet decals with those shaped like a less controversial lowercase “T.”
The original decals were designed to honor equipment manager Barry Weyer, who died in a car accident at the end of the 2013 season, and former player Markel Owens, who was murdered while protecting his family from gunmen who broke into their house in January.
USA Today reports that the school was contacted by Jonesboro attorney Louis Nisenbaum, who noticed the stickers while watching the Sept. 6 game and pointed out that because ASU is a state university, they violated the separation of church and state.
The university considered removing the cross and leaving only the initials of the fallen Red Wolves, but an anonymous ASU fan offered the widely supported idea that the decals should simply be modified into the new “t” shape.
“Some people felt the original decals too strongly symbolized the Christian faith, which resulted in Constitutional issues,” ASU Chief Counsel Jemima Piper said. “The new shape is open to a much broader interpretation. Does it stand for ‘tragic,’ ‘traumatic,’ ‘trivial,’ ‘trifling,’ or merely the pronunciation of the ‘TUH’ sound? Maybe all of them. Maybe none of them. It’s all relative.”
Drew Sharpes, head of the National Football Helmet Decal Review Board, said the university hasn’t fooled him. Outraged by the “poorly veiled way of keeping a cross on the headgear,” Sharpes said he and his fellow board members have completely abandoned the lowercase form of the letter “T” in protest.
“ASU and he res of he spor ing communi y will learn you can’ pull hese kinds of ricks and ge away wi h i ,” Sharpes said in an official NFHDRB press release.