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. Rance Davis

    You can't fail children in this situation. It undermines every moral decision JoePa made before hand.

    He can't be this mythical moral figure – wise beyond most men – and not have understood the situation.

    He failed innocent children – and nothing else he has or will ever do will account for that.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. IndyJim

    Exactly Max, Joe did tolerate it, and he let this guy go on to victimize other children over the years because he in fact put the program above doing what was right for the children. Short term thinking, and it will cost him dearly in his legacy.

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

      Exactly. This is past tense. He did tolerate it. Its done. It happened. He allowed it

      November 9, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • susan

      Your statement is not true. Sandusky was no longer a coach. You have no evidence that Joe Paterno tolerated his conduct. Clearly, Joe Paterno did not engage in a cover-up or try to protect Sandusky: he reported the GA's statement to his superior. The President of the University is the one who covered-up the problem. Also, why didn't the prosecutor in 1998 press charges? Your ire should be directed at the people who actually looked the other way. Apparently the prosecutor and the president left the child molester on the street.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CTexas

    Wow... Looks like poor old JP has stolen the critic's limelight from Obama. Now that is saying something.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • gigi

      You know, I feel for you. What does President Obama has to do with this? You are so sick at the fact that one of your heroes was more interested in winning than doing what was right that you try to deflect it off to the "Black Man". Grow up. Paterno is culpable and his legacy will forever be tarnish. Honor before loyalty and clearly Paterno has none!!!!!! Now smoke that in you pipe.

      November 9, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Aries Man

    Protecting one's reputation is right but what makes this issue wrong is the way they used the innocent kids. Someone has to pay the price.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joe Pa must go - NOW

    to quote Scott, "Paterno teaches players that no individual is more important than the team".

    I guess this includes 10 year old boys that are molested.

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

      Well said. It demonstrates Paterno's priorities, next to his own career.


      November 9, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. C

    You all want to judge and jump to conclusions about Joe Paterno! Has anyone here read the indictment, most likely not looking at some of these statements! You have a mother who didn't go to police, she went to the campus in 98. Campus police and Child welfare services heard Sandusky admit to being inappropriate and saying he was sorry and didn't do anything about it! Janitor in 2000 (firsthand witness to the abuse) tells his supervisor and does nothing to stop it while it was happening! McQueary in 2002 (firsthand witness to the abuse) talks it over with his father before telling Joe Paterno and does nothing to stop it while it was happening! Stop being so one-dimensional and get mad at the people who could have and did not stop it sooner! Making a scapegoat out of Joe Paterno, who told his boss (a man he had been working for and trusted), and was at that point not involved in anymore conversations about it while Shultz and Curley and Spanier had their little meeting with McQueary to find out the facts and investigate it! I will not jump on the Joe Paterno bandwagon haters club!

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

      Totally right, C. There are some much more guilty players in this than JP. However, it's his ship and he has to go down with it.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • susan

      Well said. I did read the indictment and I agree with you. The only fault I can lay at Joe Paterno would be if he didn't follow-up in 2002. But, we don't know if he followed up with the AD. If he did, we don't know what he was told. These people and the media are crucifying the wrong person because his name makes better headlines than the Penn State president and the prosecutor who didn't press charges in 1998.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • dm

      and what did Joe do when it was told to him, same thing everybody else.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. billgme

    This is a tragedy, and I don't believe for 1 minute Joe Pa was misleading anyone. The attorney general of Pa, says he didn't break any laws and is not the target of the investigation. Joe Pa says and I take him at his word "that with the benefit of hindsight he wished he would have done more."

    November 9, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Susan

    IF you believe a man is innocent until proven guilty, Joe did the right thing in reporting the incident to his higher up. Joe didn't witness anything directly, so anything he would do beyond reporting it would be slanderous. The person that witnessed the abuse should have contacted the police directly. There does seem to be some obstruction- WHY wasn't this taken to the police by the ones that actually visualized the crimes? The whole thing is sickening and we all want punishment of the perpetrator of the crime against children. To look at the media today, it looks as if Joe is the criminal. Why is the spotlight off the monster that harmed the children? Could more have been done to protect the children? YES- if you SEE wrong being done, report it. Don't wait for someone else to do it.

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

      The thing is, Susan, child abuse is different. You do not have to witness an act of child abuse, you only need to suspect it. Then you are required, as mandated reporters (teachers, doctors, educators, counselors, and decent human beings) to report it to the police and child welfare agencies. They do the investigation. Anyone who knew anything about the abuse (NOT just those who witnessed it) should report this violent crime against children.

      November 9, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ed

    So, basically, this guy is saying Paterno's a hypocrite. What he wouldn't tolerate in others he'll gladly forgive in himself. He failed a child. Much more significant than failing a test.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. cb

    What's amazing to me is that the media is making this "Graduate Assistant" out to be this feeble little student who feared telling anyone and was so traumatized by the whole thing, he couldn't decide what to do. I am 28 years old and Mike McQueary was my age at the time when this tragedy happened. If I saw something like this happen, you bet I would be at the police station reporting what I saw, no matter what. He played for Joe, and has been a coach for Joe since then so I get that he thought he was doing the right thing, but he was a WITNESS and Joe was not.
    The other thing I can't believe is that in the midst of all this, Joe has been pushed front and center while Spanier has remained silent. Coward.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rance Davis

      You can't have JoePa be the saint of college football and not have the responsibility fall in his lap.

      He failed.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • manhandler

      Right on...This Mcqueary guy is a big guy..He saw a 10 year old being sodomized in the shower and went home and told Daddy? HUH?????? I see something like that and I put a stop to it immediately and call 911. I mean like NOW! Went home and told Daddy? Wow! Time to clean house from botom to top.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • susan

      I agree with you completely. The other reply is just silly. He may have failed in not following-up his report, but he did report the matter and did not cover it up. Spainer and the 1998 prosecutor failed on every level.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • cb

      It's not about being a saint. It's about the person who committed these incredibly disgusting crimes and it's not Joe. This isn't a case about Joe Paterno, it's a case about child abuse. The media is forgetting that. If you want to place blame, it can't go halfway up the food chain and place it on Joe's shoulders. He did was he was supposed to do (although admittedly not enough). You have to go all the way up to the top of the food chain, and that's Spanier. He's mum, which as someone sitting at the top of the university, is a disgrace. And what about McQueary?! Why is no one asking him questions about why he didn't go to police?!

      November 9, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. msmissy04

    It's amazing how these players are coming to his defense. Not only should he have told the school (which he did), he should have called the cops at the same time or when he saw that the school did not have the pervert arrested. And sense these guys are from Penn State, then they should know that Paterno knew his locker room because it was his locker room. Lest they forget, a lot of them went there on scholarship so this guy had an investment in them so of course, he was going to stay on them because the school was/is paying for them. Paterno is from the old school, the good ole boys club where everything disgusting was kept a secret. If it had come out that one of his coaches was doing disgusting things to children, the football program would have suffered; he knew it and the school knew it. To now say that he wished he would have done more is bunch of bullcrap. Everybody and anybody who is caught doing something they have no business doing all of sudden says, I'm sorry. The only thing he feels bad for is that he got caught. He felt nothing for those children who lives were being damaged.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big Ben

      Paterno did call the cops... Schultz was in charge of University Park police. Nearly all of the national media have neatly avoided this fact. Bigger fish to fry = more papers sold.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. TexasJack

    What should be considered is the grand jury testimony (i.e. read it ppl). When JoePa reported it to the AD, they took the keys to the castle away from Sandusky. Seems the person to blame would be the AD; why give a retired coach unrestricted access to athletic facilities (pervert or not)? These kids were violated in the basement of this guy's home from the start. He used the Penn State program to exploit these children further, filling his sick twisted mind.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike

    This is all very simple. Joe Paterno was informed by a distraught assistant that a child in Joe's football facility had been brutally molested. Joe then watered down the story when he told the athletic director who watered it down some more as it was passed up the chain. Each person in this disgusting cover-up failed when they didn't tell their superior, "If you don't go to the police, I will". They should all be fired immediately, if not prosecuted.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. dmnewsi

    Joe wouldn't tolerate this, perhaps, but Joe DID tolerate this. Period. He needs to go.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. manhandler

    Sorry, but Joe DID tolerate how can you say he wouldn't? Wonder how many of these Penn State defenders would still be standing up for him if it had have been their kid? Answer.....NONE. Can't believe these people rallying to the defense of a man who allowed a pedophile to continue his sick business. Happy Valley?? I think not.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
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