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. Ed Sr

    Well put............Paterno took good care of his kids.........he pushed them for academic superiority on and off the field.........he is innocent!

    November 9, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      yes, he was bring in the bucks for Penn State. Every time Paterno saw Sandusky and did not go to the police he was responsible!

      November 9, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      And Paterno also took care of his child molester too. So because he won 409 football games, this makes it ok. Wow.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Who

      Such baloney. He didn't report it to the police. The difference here is that although he might kick a player off the team for missing breakfast, the child molester wasn't a player. He was a coach and probably one of Joe's good buddies. Inexcusable for not reporting it to police.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dave

    Joe needs to go. NOW. If this happened at Oregon, who I'm a HUGE fan of, I would say flush the toilet just the same. This is about those kids, and nothing else. Screw the legacy, screw the football. They should all be hung....

    November 9, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • CommonSense

      Kids were silent about it for a decade, what the fk you are talking about?

      November 9, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      obviously Commonsense has none and has never had anything stuck in an orifice unwillingly.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jolie

    Ok, he did tolerate it. For over 10 years. He looked the other way and allowed this to occur. Another boys club protecting their own, all for the team. Paterno might have been harsh to his players, but he could have been just as active in dealing with this situation. I could care less what actions he took with his players and what morals he preached to them. Obviously children don’t deserve the same consideration as players. I am discussed that the team’s performance was put forth before the children's welfare. Should he be allowed to coach, NO!! He should be let go.

    November 9, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • TexasJack

      Does anyone realize the guy was retired. JoePa can't 'fire' a guy that no longer works for him. And he can't take the keys away from him either. Yes, Joe probably could have done a better job at detailing the information, but the athletic director should have never given him a master key to the Athletic Facilities of Penn State. The AD was responsible for this part, not Joe.

      Either way it doesn't matter. He had already planned to retire anyway.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Discussed or disgusted? The real sin here is that none of you can put together a coherent sentence.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JT

    Joe Paterno is the Cardinal Law of college football.

    November 9, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JeanneLH

    Wow, we are all experts, aren't we? I know that Penn State is a good school. This Sandusky has done a horrible thing to this school. People have chided the grad assistant for not walking in and grabbing the child, but none of us were in his shoes. Had he called police, sure in hindsite, it would have been the right thing to do. This was 10 years ago and I'm sure the GA was shocked and had to think about what to do. He probably went home and thought, I've got to tell the coach. Head football coaches are unbelievably busy and JoeP did the best he could at the time. The one thing I can't believe is the nerve of Sandusky. AFTER the administration took his shower room keys away...he was seen in the weight room last week. I AM upset that JoeP didn't ban him from using the facilities. That Sandusky is an evil monster and Penn State will be reeling from this for a very long time. I'm sorry Joe's career had to end this way. But it was the right thing to do.

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

      You bet I'm an expert. I endured it too for years and a young teen. Don't even try to defend Paterno. His 'character' only went as for as HIS players and the football team. That's it!

      November 9, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      "Head football coaches are unbelievably busy and JoeP did the best he could at the time." – a kid was getting molested and you think its OK for JoeP to be focused on whether to run the power I or spread offense?

      "AFTER the administration took his shower room keys away...he was seen in the weight room last week. I AM upset that JoeP didn't ban him from using the facilities" – you think they were being too harsh on him?

      How hard is it to call 9-1-1 especially when a child is involved? my goodness, we have failed as a society.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • cb

      Donna if you endured it for years like you say you did, that is a tragedy. But if you let it go on for years you obviously did not report it and you continued to let it happen. It puts you in a similar class as those in question.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      That's a typical reaction. Blame a young teenage victim who is traumatized for not fighting back against the adult.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      Sorry CB, I gave a flip answer to what you were asking. When a child, like I was, is traumatized to such an extent, it can take years to face it yourself. Most abused kids, myself included, 'zone out' and go to a different place to get through the actual incident. If we're lucky, we can finally face it and work through it as an adult, but a child's brain can't cope properly with what is happening. For me it was 25 years ago, but it's shaped who I am and that is intolerant of anyone who knows what is happening and doesn't do anything directly about it. The children generally can't.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. yahweh

    I don't engage in personality cults, Paterno is no one special, he taught so kids how to toss a ball around big deal, but why should he be held to higher standard then the rest of humanity, where is the guy who supposedly actually saw the abuse, why isn't he running to the police.

    November 9, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Donna

    When it comes to kids being abused who gives a crap if someone is 'busy'. You go to the police. Sandusky still had an office on campus for years and old 'JoeP' saw him and did nothing. You don't pass the buck to someone else. Busy is NO excuse. I was abused for years and no one did anything. Yes, he took care of 'HIS' players. They brought in the money. His career SHOULD be over and he and all who support his 'excuse' should be ashamed of themselves.

    November 9, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • HunterPSU

      Dr.Hunter says you are projecting alot of anger at JoePa without knowing the facts.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nate

      Dr. Hunter is a moron. There are plenty of's called the Grand Jury presentment. The grad student told Paterno what happened the day after it happened. It was fine for Paterno to tell the AD, but he should have either followed up to make sure the police were informed, or he should have called the police himself. No excuse for letting this get handled in house.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • GE

      Donna, I'm sorry for your hurt, but I'm disappointed in your responses. I know how much it hurts, the tears shed and the shame all too well, but it doesn't help blaming someone that could have done so little. Anger has to be directed in the right location. It's easy for us to say who could have helped, but at the end of the day, JoePa is not to blame here. I pray your healing though.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. slipstream

    What about the father of the assistant that reported the incident, he knew and did not go to the police, why isn't being crucified in the press either.

    November 9, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill in VA

      Because no one would know him and people love to take down famous names.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • TDM

      he should be... good point

      November 9, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nate

      There is PLENTY of blame to go around, but JoePa is one of the ones that needs to accept responsibility.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tom, Long Beach, California

    wow, where was this backlash for Roman Polanski or Michael Jackson?????????????????????????????????

    November 9, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      you obviously didn't read the papers. There was a backlash. I remember talk radio was nuts at the time both those things were going on.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • yannaes

      The Liberals love the Hollywood freaks.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |

    November 9, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. HunterPSU

    JoePa is one of the greats. I agree, every action he has taken representing PSU, makes me feel like he deserves the benefit of doubt. JoePa deserves the chance to explain himself and his actions. PSU will miss him and owes him a tremendous amount of respect and honor.

    November 9, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      I wonder how many chances those boys got to not get abused by this man that Paterno saw regulary on campus and did nothing about. They all just wanted to hush it up.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • HunterPSU

      so donna you dont think JoePa deserves the chance to explain himself? Maybe he should just clam up and let everyone guess what he knew? I prefer he tells what he knows, what did, and what he should have done...or wishes he had done.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      He lost his chance when someone told him a kid was being sodomized in the shower and did not dial 911.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |

      i'm sorry, but no...he is not great.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |

      but i do wonder why they waited until this guy retired to bring this up. did they wait until he retires to save more money? didn't care one speck about any of them...just the money.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • HunterPSU

      So the State police and the district attorney waited until JoePA hit 409....or maybe they waited because cases like this can be very difficult. All the info from many different sources put together in a nice neat basket for you to read and make a decision has now been done. but it took awhile for the police to get all the info from the many different sources. yes it could have been nice and neat and done much better if PSU, the charity, the coaches, janitors. police, parents, and others had all had a nice meeting together to compare stories. but that is not how it happened.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nate

      Hunter...JoePa has had the chance to explain. He was questioned by the Grand Jury. He has also had ample opportunity to talk to the media. Where is he? He's a punk. Sorry your perfect image of JoePa is ruined. He is culpable.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. TDM

    you paterno apologists are pathetic. he is the most powerful person in the town and university, and he looked the other way. he "did what he was supposed to do"? please. he is the law there, the chain of command ends with him. too bad he cant be punished more than simply losing his job.

    November 9, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. yannaes

    Mr. Paterno! Did you see the accused involving himself in any improprieties towards any young men while he was at Penn.State? Mr. Paterno! Did the accused tell you of any dealings with young men in the manner in which the defendant is accused? Mr. Paterno! Did a second party tell you of any acts that the defendant may have done while under your leadership? Mr. Paterno! Did you notice any behavioral changes in the defendant over a period of time that would lead you to ask questions as to what is causing these changes? Just one more question. If you knew about any act, why did you not report this to the proper authorities?

    November 9, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • HunterPSU

      No No Yes no I reported it to Curly and V.P in charge of police.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Barbara

    Thank you Freddie for your comments and insight.

    November 9, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |

    pedophiles don't show that side to everyone. but he knew.

    November 9, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
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