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. sjm

    It appears that JP may not be legally culpable but how does he allow Sandusky to continue to use the PSU football program as a mechanism to lure in additional victims. The first victim isn't JP responsibility but in my opinion the subsequent victimization of numerous children could have been prevented. He needs to practice what he preaches and take responsibility for his lack of action...

    November 9, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • rkt210

      Paterno DIDN'T allow Sandusky access to the facilities, the AD did. Paterno, given his relationship to Sandusky and the information told to him my McQueary, who waited until the next day to bother to tell him, was appropriate. The AD and the VP should fave severe punishment for covering it up, since they were told the full details of the incident. McQueary, who was 28 at the time, should serve jail time for failing to aid the child victim as the crime was happening, and for failing to contact the police. Paterno is being sacrificed because of his fame.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guntown Johnny

      Paterno is as culpable as the other three for not agressively purusing this allegation through with the proper authorities. While not legally culpable, he failed Ethics/Morality 101 and deserves to lose his job in shame. All four must go immediately.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terry

      If you want some facts, read the grand jury's report which is available on line. Paterno should be ashamed. He should resign now, if he cares about the victims.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terry

      I clicked the wrong button.. I was not reporting any abuse on the reply. Sorry

      November 9, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Macmaven

      If you are a great leader, as everyone proclaims Peterno is, then you are responsible for everything that goes on under your charge. If he didn't know about it, then he should have cared enough to do so. If he did know about it, then he'll get his in some for or fashion. Either way, his legacy is in the toilet, and Penn State athletics in general should be shut down. This is a disgrace of the highest order.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • 97gts

      really macmaven cancel all the athletic programs? yeah punishing the student athletes that had nothing to do with this would be the right solution.. you should take some time and think how stupid that proposal sounds....

      November 9, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BoFo

    Scott is in a state of denial.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Scott was there, as I was. Scott is correct in his accounts and his feelings. You know nothing about Penn State.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • jnpa

      @BoFo...You are clueless!

      November 9, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Vicki

    "Paterno teaches players that no individual is more important than the team," -
    And does this extend to thinking the University and the football program were more important than a defenseless little 10 year old boy?

    November 9, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • muir

      Apparently yes.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • CommonSense

      Stupid beyach – go away.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Oski

    Paterno HAD to know what was going on as he dismissed/allowed Sandusky to "retire" 10 years before the latest incident. He also likely misled the authorities during an investigation.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      You are basing your statements on what proof/facts?

      November 9, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • sosofresh

      Because it is appropriate to completely tear a man to pieces and levy the most serious of accusations against him based solely on conjecture and theories put together from pieces of stories that you've recently heard. Right.

      Actually, I believe that qualifies you to write an article for SI.com

      November 9, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • CommonSenz

      your conclusion is invalid - Joe 'had' to know? Please read the Grand Jury report - even the Penna Atty Gen says Joe is not going to be charged for the simple reason he was given sketchy second-hand info, which he reported to his superiors. The bigger scandal here is what occurred in 1998 – 2 detectives went to the County DA and he decided not to press charges. What the heck was that about ? Had action been taken then, further abuses could have been prevented.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris

      Even with the spotlight on him, Paterno is doing everything he can to deflect responsbility. His testimony as reported was carefully worded, but the fact that he remarked on how disturbed the grad assistant was at what he saw should have ignited a fervent desire to discover the truth of what his assistant coach was doing to boys in his players shower room. He didn't consider it an issue worth pursuing then. His "tolerance" for sodomizing young boys was revealed in the words he used to described the young victims "or whatever you want to call them." What OTHER WORD is there??? His announced resignation effective at the end of the season, padded with the cue to the Trustees that they don't need to spend any more time focused on him, displays his arrogance and self-centeredness. If I were Joe Paterno, and I had done everything in my power, I would want to be exonerated. Not by a group of loyals fans, but by FACTS. The facts are sickening.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Gambyrich

    If Paterno had been half as concerned with his locker room child-sodomizing assistant coach as he was with keeping his players' post-win braggadocio in check, his morality wouldn't be called into question. He could have used his infamous clout to ensure Sandusky was dealt with appropriately. Instead he did the absolute minimum required of him, to protect egos and reputations in the name of football. He failed as a human being.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. forwardgal

    We don't know all the facts yet. We DO know that Joe did NOT witness the crime. We DO know that a grad asst. did witness the crime and reported to his father first and Joe second. Joe followed suit and reported to his direct boss. Did he exercise poor judgement by not following through on questions about the incident. YES. That makes him foolish, negligent, thoughtless, and otherwise, maybe, plain stupid. But he did NOT commit a crime. I do think that he needed to be chastised for this somehow, and don't think for a moment he won't be guilt-ridden the rest of his life over it all. But again, beyond what we know right now, he isn't the guilty party in all this. SANDUSKY is!!!!!! And the person who witnessed a crime in progress should have immediately reported it to police as a CRIME was being committed. Those kids did NOT deserve being victimized by Sandusky and I hope and pray they get the help they need. But Paterno didn't deserve to be sent out on a donkey to take the fall either. That said, I believe he was going to retire this yr. anyhow given his injuries and concerns about coaching from the sideline. But this is a hell of a way to have to retire. Let's face it: he is the face of Penn State and they had to get someone out there to pay the price.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • muir

      Legally he may have done nothing wrong. But simple decency demands he should have done more. He needs to be fired along with all who knew and did nothing.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TS

    Everyone who knew about this and did not go to the police should face jail time.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hadenufyet

      No different than other witnessed capital crime that doesn't get reported. Happens every day.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. awake

    paterno not settling, not allowing for inappropriate behavior for the sake of the team is one thing.

    this issue and the actions not taken weren't about "the team:" they were about protecting the establishment's reputation more than the welfare of a child. no valor.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. gate

    Knowing what we know right now, I wonder if any of the victims think JoePa did the right thing and do they remain a JoePa fan. His only punishment is to fire him right now and let him ponder did Penn State do the right thing!

    November 9, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. LIonPride

    If the PSU administration had done the right thing with the information JoePa gave them, he would be revered as a hero for reporting it. Instead, they swept it under the rug and have now made him their scapegoat. Scott isn't delusional, Joe P has helped and been a mentor to thousands of students. It is easy to be the moral police sitting behind a computer, tell me, what important things have any of you done with your lives that you can sit in judgment of others. This is a sick and heinous thing, but last time I heard, it was Sandusky that did this. The media have successfully hung Joe Paterno out there and the lynch mob mentality has clearly jumped on this band wagon. I for one know I have no place judging anyone else, they will each meet their maker and be judged, but I agree with Scott, knowing everything Joe P has stood for and the the contributions he has made, I need more facts about what he knew and when he knew it before I will turn my back on him.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Manthyss

      This is not a hazy situation. This not one of those that can go either way. This is not a situation where fanatical devotion can play any part. From an ethical standpoint if you knew an abuser was potentially preying on helpless children you REPORT IT TO POLICE. Period. No rationalization, justification or excuses. He should have reported it. He didn't. No past achievements can change that. Stop being in denial. The real victims are the children – not a football coach.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • CB

      RIGHT ON

      November 9, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • matt

      Nicely said.

      The mob mentality and tunnel vision is really frustrating me right now. For all we know McQueary is the liar and the one who softened the account on day one. Occam's razor says that it is more likely that 1 person (McQ) is lying than 4 (Paterno, Curley, Shultz, Spanier). But that's just not as sensational a story.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laurie

      You're right, Joe decided the right thing to do was sacrifice a few for the greater good of many. And you need to keep in mind, Joe Paterno isn't just an innocent face at Penn State, he is the Face of that Football Empire, he hired Sandusky. Blaming "hindsight" after being called out in his moral absence, it's also not shocking. He should have stepped down immediately, knowing all this crap would roll downhill, but had the arrogance to play out the end of the year. His Ego is the Size of Pediphile State!

      November 10, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Alex

    So this ex-player says that Paterno didn't let his kids showboat? I guess he was more concerned about the feelings of 18-21 college kids who just took a beating in a GAME than the feelings of children who are being fondled by his right hand man and having there's lives ruined? Interesting prioritizing there Joe, you moron. What a shame this POS is so old; he deserves to live with this hanging over his head for much longer than he probably will.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JN

    The graduate assistant, Joe Pa, the AD, vice-president and the president did not do enough to protect little boys and stop this predator.

    Those facts are clear and indisputable.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. GF

    What do mean he wouldn't tolerate this. He did. For at least 10 years.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ken

    It is time to get the "KIDS" and the parents educated too. There needs to be a MEDIA blitz . We send messages not to smoke, drink or do drugs,, where is the "DO NOT TOUCH ME" warning... As we all know this happens everyday to the poor kids.. The kids need to understand just who has the right to touch them and who doesn't. PARENTS have to sit with their children and tell them if anyone touches them they need to report it.
    The parent needs to esnure the child that is was NOT their fault.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. max

    But he DID tolerate it. What a dumb premise for an article given the situation.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
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