While Joe Paterno is facing mounds of criticism from all over the world, the players who knew him, played for him, aren't so quick to pass judgment.
"I'm still a big supporter of Coach Paterno," defensive tackle Jordan Hill told the Altoona Mirror during a charitable event last Friday. "He's one of the reasons that I'm here. Nobody's perfect, and that's basically all you can say. No man is perfect at all."
The Freeh Report, which was released last Thursday, revealed that Paterno, among others at Penn State, knew about the sexual abuse former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was inflicting on children and did nothing about it in an effort to keep the program in a positive light. Consequently, several young boys suffered, including some who were abused in the same building where Paterno's office resided.
Still, the revelation about Paterno's actions hasn't affected the way his players perceive him.
"He's the best college football coach ever of all time and that's all that matters," running back Silas Redd said. "They don't know him like how we know him. I mean, opinion is opinion, everyone is going to have one."
Similarly, Paterno's family is also trying to keep Paterno's name from being completely tarnished. The Paternos announced that it had asked its lawyers to form a group to review the statements in the Freeh Report, which was conducted by former FBI investigator Louis Freeh at the behest of Penn State. The family said its team of investigators would go beyond the report to find more information that needs to be analyzed despite the fact that Freeh and his team conducted more than 430 interviews and reviewed more than 3 million documents during a seven-month period.
"We are dismayed by, and vehemently disagree with, some of the conclusions and assertions and the process by which they were developed by the Freeh Group," Wick Sollers, the lawyer for the Paterno family, said in a statement Monday. "Mr. Freeh presented his opinions and interpretations as if they were absolute facts. We believe numerous issues in the report, and his commentary, bear further review."
From the beginning, the Paterno family has adamantly denied Joe Paterno participated in a cover-up to keep Sandusky's actions quiet despite evidence in the Freeh Report to the contrary.
In the meantime, Penn State officials are determining whether to remove the statue of Paterno that represents the football legacy the coach created during his 61 years with the university. Even though reports have surfaced that the statue will stay, Penn State issued a statement Sunday that a decision has yet to be made.
Players said they would like to see the statue stay.
"It would be sad if it went down," Hill told the Altoona Mirror. "I definitely want to take a picture with it when I'm graduating, I've got my cap and gown on and stuff like that."
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Joe Paterno
- Penn State
- Louis Freeh