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. Steve

    It seems to me that it is very difficult for true believers who benefitted from Penn State's paragon of virtue reputation to face reality. Your career is your whole career, not just the good parts.

    November 9, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Susan

    Joe Paterno and everyone of the men who knew about this should be in jail along with that monster, Sandusky. JP protected no one except his football, his buddies and the school. Your "honor" went out the window with your inaction Mr. Paterno!

    November 9, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan Is Wrong

      You are wrong.

      November 9, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • as a victim of gang sodomy at age 8

      children sod-om-ized and many we will never know of.. Most will live lives of he-ll. And these men denied immediate medical care for the child? Who could stoop so low? We know now.

      All those need to pay.

      November 9, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • damixter

      Jack-ass-ette!

      November 9, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. nittanylioness_1995

    I hope everyone read the above article and can see the integrity of a legend in the words of a player that knew him personally. Thank you Freddie Scott for defending a great man! I am so outraged at the media for making this about JoePa when the real criminal is hiding and letting someone else take the blame for something he did. Sandusky should rot in hell while JoePa is a saint

    November 9, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Joseph Paterno is not a saint. He's a man. A man who did many good things. In this case, it appears he did a terrible thing. We are all accountable for our actions. So is he. That's life. Sometimes it's your hero whose feet are shown to be of clay.

      November 9, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • awaker

      I bet this goes back to the sixties, everything Paterno did he did for himself not the school or the kids, kind of hard to say he cared about the kids when he let this go on. The records and the money that he spent on the campus are just part of the lie. At the very least he should be stripped of any records he holds. Sorry Pstate but clue in, he played you for fools.

      November 9, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mort

    If the police and district attorney would have done their job in 1998, it wouldn't have gotten this far.

    November 9, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • journey38

      True, but it certainly doesn't excuse it in the least.

      November 9, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChrisGar

      Because the police didn't act - does that let JoePa off the hook ?

      November 9, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JeffInSanAntone

    Clean house. Everyone must go. Spanier? GONE! Curely? GONE! Schultz? GONE! McQueary? GONE! Paterno? GONE! Start over, take it from the top ... boy, all this make Miami's boat rides and bongs with a booster, and Ohio State's jerseys-for-tattoos incidents, seem like chump change. And imagine that: Penn State's "Success With Honor" taking a back seat to Tattoogate and Thug U-gate. Who'd have thunk it? Way to go, Joe. Way to go.

    November 9, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John

    "Joe would not tolerate this"? Except for the roughly 15 years he tolerated it... and protected someone he knew was a child rapist.

    November 9, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Words

    OK, Mr. Scott, I understand it's "hard to believe" Paterno would tolerate this. I'm afraid that you're going to have to start lowering his pedestal to mortal height in the near future.

    November 9, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. shannon g

    Penn st. is no better than any other school that has a scandal. You may be surprised to think that could happen on campus, but it has. When these allegations are proven, then tell us what you think, but right now you cannot make a definitive say of what Joe wouldn't tolerate.

    November 9, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      read the grand jury report and then tell me if you need to withhold judgement

      November 9, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. fearlessdude

    The main culprit is McQueary. He should have stepped in and stop the abuse and then call the police that immediately.
    What a jerk.

    November 9, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. as a victim of gang sodomy at age 8

    Everyone of these men are guilty. The moment Joe heard about it he should have brought McQueary with him to the police. I can not tell people how horrible a life to children who were denied help. One of those who abused me abused another who later committed suicide. This child's mother cried to her death. A child who copes alone has a life of horror. In fact life expectancy of abused children is 20 years less. A physical change in the brain occurs in many cases causing difficulty in concentration.

    BTW, those who abused me are still around children today. New York State, lead by Senator Defransisco, stopped a Bill that would have exposed these pedos. One of those is a Bishop today, the rest priests.Yes.. The right laws are stopped by politicians who are promised catholic votes by the Bishops. ALL VICTIMS and our CHILDREN lose.

    November 9, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • My heart breaks for the victims

      I'm so sorry for your pain. I'm so sorry that the people who should have done their best by you did the worst.
      I agree with you.
      All it takes for evil to succeed is for one good man to do nothing. JoePa could have stopped this and should have. McQueary should have punched this guy in the neck, called the cops and removed the boy from the situation. Too many people rolled over. Abhorrent.

      November 9, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • BMcGee

      Thank you for speaking out. I wish more people would listen to you. Good luck.

      November 10, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. Frank

    The Media has taken this problem to a level past common sanity. This problem of child molestation is clearly about one man, one clearly defined problem, the responsibility is all encompassing a single individual who took it upon himself to violate kids that are vunerable. To quarterback this with hindsight as to what others should have done to react in this abnormal situation is totally wrong. There was no coverup, just a lack of knowledge as to how to handle this type of problem with limited data. To blame others is only to sell media and make dollars, it is egregious that Joe Paterno, who has had a stellar record, a virtual god send of college football suffers a tarnished image. The media/social commentators should stick their heads in the sand and be embarrassed by their actions. This includes CNN

    November 9, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Pamela Morgan

    It is really all about the children. They will struggle with the horror of being victimized for the rest of their lives. All of the adults in this case were at least morally obliged to protect the children and to hell with the reputation of Penn state, its athletic program, and the personel who comprised it. Let them be an example of how not to respond should you ever find yourself in the position to protect a child.

    November 9, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. TexRex96

    But he DID tolerate it, folks - isn't that what all the flap is about? All the starry-eyed former players and awe-struck sportscasters in the world can sing Paterno's praises - much of it deserved - but they're ignoring the facts. It looks like JoePa DID tolerate this. Maybe it was just one lapse, but he DID tolerate it, and he appears remorseful. Articles like this where uninvolved people get a platform to blindly proclaim the innocence of high-profile personalities are disrespectful to victims.

    November 9, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Glenn Harvey

    Baloney. Paterno had to have known about the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, which apparently led to Sandusky's supposed "retirement." Given that incident, when McQuery told Paterno what he witnessed in the shower with a 10-yr old boy, Paterno should have been forewarned and would have had no reason not to pursue the issue. Let's suppose Sandusky was witnessed passing plays to an opposing team, who thinks Paterno would have simply told the AD and then have simply left it up to "higher officials" to deal with it. Paterno is the most powerful person on the PSU campus – in reality, he is the highest authority on campus, especially with any matter related to football.

    November 9, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. TheTruth

    Paterno did exactly what he was supposed to. He reported it to the man that oversaw a 230 person police force. End of story...he didn't ddo anything wrong.

    November 9, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • as a victim of gang sodomy at age 8

      Bulllllll –

      November 9, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChrisGar

      If it was his grandchild - would reporting it to one person who was supposed to oversee be sufficient ?

      Could he have lived with himself if he only did that ?

      November 9, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • as a victim of gang sodomy at age 8

      Thank you ChrisGar

      November 9, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
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