Former Penn State player: 'This is something Joe wouldn't tolerate'
Freddie Scott II, seen here playing in 1994, ranks among Penn State's top 10 in career receptions and receiving yardage.
November 9th, 2011
03:02 PM ET

Former Penn State player: 'This is something Joe wouldn't tolerate'

Former Penn State University players have come to their old coach's defense amid news that Joe Paterno will be stepping down in the wake of a child sex abuse scandal involving one of his former assistants.

Paterno's detractors are alleging the players are faithfully circling the wagons, just like any program would in the wake of the defamatory developments disgracing the university this week, but one ex-Nittany Lion says that isn't so.

Former NFL player Freddie Scott II was en route to a panel discussion at a Baptist children's home in Nashville on Wednesday when he took time to chat with CNN via telephone about his coach and alma mater. The panel was scheduled to discuss the church's role in helping children at risk.

Scott, who played under Paterno from 1993 to 1995 and is considered one of the school’s best-ever receivers, concedes that, to a degree, college football teams have a culture of protecting the program.

At Penn State it’s different, he said.

There, it's not about money or fame. There are no names on the backs of jerseys in State College. There is no logo on the helmet. Players go there because of tradition. They go there to play for a legend, he said.

“It’s a school where you go because of what Penn State stands for,” he said, and you’re protecting the program because of that legacy, not because of individuals.

Paterno teaches players that no individual is more important than the team, Scott said, adding he’s seen senior starters benched for failing tests in school.

Scott said he didn't want to speculate on what Paterno knew and what he should have or didn't do. What Jerry Sandusky is accused of doing is “repulsive and inexcusable,” and Scott said he can’t believe Paterno would have turned a blind eye to it.

“I’ve seen people kicked off the team for less. I’ve seen guys punished for not making it to breakfast,” he said. “This is something Joe wouldn't tolerate.”

Video: Paterno greets supporters

Paterno focused on “doing the little things right,” whether it was waking up on time, working out hard or making grades. Paterno had assistants who would travel around campus making sure the football players were attending class, he said.

Scott, who played for the Nittany Lions when Sandusky was defensive coordinator, said no players with whom he’s spoken ever suspected the longtime Paterno assistant would use his position and influence to take advantage of boys, as was alleged in a 40-count indictment this week.

“This is something that none of us would have expected. None of us saw any tendencies, any clues,” he said. “We never heard a whisper of anything being done inappropriate.”

Scott was interviewed shortly after Paterno announced he will retire at the end of the season. The coach called the abuse allegations “a tragedy.”

"It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more," Paterno said.

Scott said Paterno's departure marks the “end of an era where college athletics was about the student-athlete,” an era in which the student part of student-athlete was just as important as a young man's speed and physical attributes.

SI: Did Paterno break the law?

“What coach today in college athletics would say, ‘I know this guy is fast. I know this guy’s a game changer. I know he can help us win, but he can’t pass the SAT’?" Scott asked, explaining that Paterno regularly passed on recruits who didn't meet his academic standards.

In a way, it's ironic the Sandusky affair resulted in the end of Paterno’s career, he said.

Paterno kept his players out of the media. There were no inflammatory remarks before games, no braggadocio after. Even if they beat their opponent by 50, players were instructed to tell reporters it was a hard-fought game, that they were fortunate, that the “ball bounced our way,” Scott said.

“That was our script,” he said. “You play the game on the field, not in the media. He tried to keep us out of the media by doing the right things.”

If Sandusky is guilty, anyone who facilitated or ignored what the assistant coach was doing should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, Scott said, but he can't believe Paterno would betray a young person.

Scott, who today is a spokesman for the Christian-based All Pro Dad, which aims to make men better fathers, likened Paterno's “life of character and integrity” to that of ex-NFL coach Tony Dungy, who helped start the organization.

Scott said he isn't ready to assign guilt yet in the Sandusky matter, but he hopes Paterno can continue to work with and influence kids, something he believes gives the coach of more than six decades purpose.

“I’m hoping that Joe will be able to find a way with the university or an organization to allow him to continue to have a positive impact on young people.”

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Filed under: College football • Crime • Jerry Sandusky • Joe Paterno • Penn State • Sports • U.S.
soundoff (375 Responses)
  1. James

    I doubt he would put up with it either. Doesn't seem reasonable that the guy that told him really adequately told him how bad he says it was. Something the guy claims he told Joe Pa just doesn't ring true to me–

    November 10, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kathy

      In his own words,
      "It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more," Paterno said.
      Obviously he knew!!

      November 10, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jordan

      Kathy.... please tell me what hindsight means... please. Do you know what it means? Your outrage is amusing. The situation isn't- you are.

      November 10, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kathy

      "Hindsight: the ability to understand, after something has happened, what should have been done or what caused the event

      He's saying that, looking back, he should have done something more, which says that he did do something but now thinks he should have done more. "more" is the significant word, as it implies that he DID SOMETHING ABOUT THE SITUATION AT THE TIME– thus he had to have known about it at the time!! Not that tough.

      November 10, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • matt

      Kathy, you still don't understand it....

      November 12, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • JLCMAX

      Lots of Monday morning quaterbacking going on here! It's the easiest thing in the world to say "he should have done more". We wouldn't even be talking about this, and a lot of kids wouldn't have become victims, if the authorities (the DA and the police) had stopped Sandusky back in 1996. Read the report – the DA closed the case, and the police closed the case, even after Sandusky admitted he showered with two kids and hugged them in the showers! Yet these idiots choose to blame it all on Paterno, driven by jealousy and the failures in their own lives are the first to blame others, so that they can feel better about themselves and there own sorry lives.

      November 12, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Laurie

    I think Joe did know, and didn't want to risk his money making empire, and career to save a few underpriviledged kids, by spilling the beans and sullying the school image. Think about Sandusky NOT stepping in as Head Coach after JoePa, think about his untimely retirement from football at the early age of 55. I think Joe and the school pressured him out. I think what Joe thought was...look at all the influence I can have if I'm here.....? Sacrifice a few for the many. I would respect him if he had shouted to the heavens that this was inexcusible back in 2002! Put him on the block and said this type of thing wouldn't be tolorated at Penn State!! Sometimes and ego can be so big as to block the moral guidelines we know to be true. Better to have delt with it then, and not go down in shame, have your Empire be referred to as "Pedifile State", or Ped State for short!

    November 10, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • matt

      hypothetical assumptions from a moron...

      November 12, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • JLCMAX

      you are very ignorant and very stupid

      November 12, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • DoNotWorry

      Men are prone to idolatry when it comes to sports figures like Joe Paterno. No amount of logic will get a response other than name-calling. That's the biggest problem... idolatry... making gods out of fallible human beings. Joe Paterno protected his sports empire at the expense of little boys.

      November 17, 2011 at 2:43 am | Report abuse |
  3. vahellbilly

    Dear Mr. Scott,

    Joe knew and did nothing.... Telling his boss was his obligation, reporting to the police was his civic duty as a responsible adult and a father/grandfather. Or, as others are saying was swept aside to avoid a scandal. Well, the dirt under the carpet is now a mountain and it is crashing down.

    Good luck Joe Pa, you and your high-dollar DC lawyer are gonna need it... Wonder how the parents of and the victims who are now adults of this abuse are paying for their lawyer.... and their counseling.... and their shame, even though they are not to blame.

    Sad...

    November 10, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • john

      The whole point is that we don't know what Paterno knew and what he was told. Remember he didn't witness the acts and we don't know what he was told after he reported the acts to the two men who are now indicted for purgery (think they may have lied to Paterno as well?? At a least a possiblility?).

      Paterno has yet to defend himself, all facts against him came from a trial of two other men. An investigation was conducted and Paterno was found not worthy of prosecution. Why, we don't know the specifics as to why.

      Paterno is a big name, why doesn't anyone care about the Citadel? B/c it's not fun to take down nobodies. Let's not lump him in with Sandusky with only partial information and large amounts of speculation. You'd think a life time of being an outsanding human would warrant at least that?

      November 15, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    Uh...Joe DID tolerate this......that's why he got fired. (Jim Jones would have loved these guys.)

    November 10, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. JLCMAX

    Let's face it. The only reason Joe was fired was for the purpose of portraying to the outside world that the University is cleaning house. The Trustees did not fire him because they think he is guilty of anything. They fired him because the world we live in likes to see people fail and there isn't time to wait on a trial to find out the guilty from the innocent and who knew what when. We live in a nation where we all like to see sensationalism and we feed off of what the media presents to us. Lots of Monday morning quaterbacking going on here! It's the easiest thing in the world to say "he should have done more". We wouldn't even be talking about this, and a lot of kids wouldn't have become victims, if the authorities (the DA and the police) had stopped Sandusky back in 1996. Read the report – the DA closed the case, and the police closed the case, even after Sandusky admitted he showered with two kids and hugged them in the showers! Yet these idiots choose to blame it all on Paterno, driven by jealousy and the failures in their own lives are the first to blame others, so that they can feel better about themselves and there own sorry lives.

    November 12, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. father ezekial a cohen

    at penn state playwright/acting guru

    former penn stater

    larry myers

    previewed parts of 2 plays

    highly experimental yet heartfelt

    "penn state occupation'

    "penn state punts/nittany lion roars"
    a fiery followup to the

    "occupation preoccupation" cycle of mystery morality miracle plays
    '

    November 15, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse | Reply
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