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. haroldus maximus supramus

    Say it ain't so Joe!

    November 9, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      Gee Coach... You didn't really put your penis in a ten year old boy did you Coach?

      November 9, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Urdnot Wrex

      They're fools, all of them. You should eat them!

      November 9, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Steve Gastin

    He did tolerate and by not taking action encouraged it!

    November 9, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • BSally

      Yep
      And it shouldn't really surprise anyone what someone else will do (or not do) when their multimillion dollar salary is on the line..... And their legacy.

      November 9, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. atljack

    Who is the most powerful person at Penn State. Joe Paterno. Who could have EASILY prevented Sandusky from ever stepping foot on the Penn State campus. Joe Paterno. Are all you Joe defenders really so naive as to believe that when Mike MaQuery, who played QB for Paterno was was at the time one of his assistants came to Paterno's house and told him about being in the showers with this boy (remember, Sandusky had been warned before not to be in the showers with boys)
    ... do you really think Paterno didn't question McQuery carefully? That he didn't talk to Sandusky carefully? Are you really so foolish to think it slipped his mind? And keep in mind that Paterno clearly believed what McQuery said or McQuery would not have his present job (mayby that's WHY he has his present job- a reward for the coverup).

    Joe Paterno, the most powerful man at Penn State COULD have instantly stopped Sandusky from ever stepping foot on the Penn State campus. But didn't Sandusky continued to have keys to the field house and come and go as he pleased. Joe knew and they ALL covered this up. Paterno was chose loyalty to Penn State over doing the right thing to protect these boys.

    November 9, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mort

      Keeping him off campus wouldn't have stopped the abuse. They were happening in Sandusky's home

      November 9, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • BSally

      Mort
      They were happening on campus. The grad assistant saw them in the shower. That is what he reported to Joe.

      November 9, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mort

      You are right. They were also happening in his basement

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

      in one statement he said someone told them they witnessed something bad but didn't give him details. BS. what's the first thing anyone with a brain does when they hear something like that? they ask WHAT they saw. no way he heard about "something bad" without knowing the details

      November 9, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jb

    All this talk about what Joe should have done, and what he did do. By the letter of the law, he did the right thing. Morally? Well, that will be debated for years to come. What DOES interest me, is that Joe did what he thought he was supposed to do: he told his superiors, one of them in charge of CAMPUS POLICE (and trust a former student, we are NOT talking about mall security guards or students on a power trip here), and NO ONE is talking about MIKE MCQUEARY!!!! If ANYONE should have called the cops, IT WAS HIM!!!!! But no one is talking about that.
    I'm not making excuses for JoePa. I've been struggling with my feelings about all this for almost a week. But if he did what he thought was appropriate, UNTIL THE FACTS COME OUT THROUGH THE INVESTIGATION, WHO ARE ANY OF US (aside from victims and their families) TO JUDGE HIM. Over 60 years of the utmost integrity, putting others before himself, putting the school before the team (and ANYONE who really knows ANYTHING about PSU knows THAT to be the TRUTH!) and now all of a sudden people are ready to crucify the ONLY person who did what he thought was right?!?!?!

    November 9, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChrisGar

      You are making many excuses for JoePa.

      If he knew Sandusky was raping boys on campus - why does it have to be debated "for years to come"?

      Maybe you should revisit the "over 60 years of utmost integrity" ... maybe it was only 50.

      Although maybe it depends how you define "utmost integrity".

      November 9, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gen

      Here Here jb.
      Why did it take McQueary til the next day to tell anyone??? I dont know about anyone else but at the very least shouldnt he have stopped what was going on??????? Perhaps scream "What the F*** are you doing??" Me I would have found the nearest heavy thing I could lift and hit Sandusky in the back of the head. Paterno didnt see it first hand. When you acuse someone of something like this, it makes a big impact on alot of lives. Why didnt McQueary speak up and stop what was going on and continue to scream it from the rooftops.

      November 9, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • indepvot

      What Paterno did WAS morally wrong. With that, there is no debate.

      November 9, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • hallyer

      Amen!! Joe had no part in this scandal, but still reported it to a university authority. It's not Joe's fault if the person he reported it to didn't take enough action against Sandusky! Joe did the right thing here – he reported it.

      November 9, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • karen wharton

      All you yahoos who are blaming him for not beating on Sandusky need to understand the power that someone with Sandusky's legacy - Mr Linebacker, after all - has over a lowly graduate student assistant. Dude freaked out and left, but told his dad that night; his dad advised him to go first thing the next morning to talk to Paterno - the most powerful man on campus. Paterno could have forced the AD and financial director to look into it, and forced the campus police to investigate; McQueary couldn't. McQueary's mistake was to trust that Paterno would do the right thing.

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

      JoePa "could have, should have ... but I would have ..." are words used by many of the subjects as they are interviewed by the media and express their opinion(s) about the nightmarish mess that engulfs the Penn State community today. This is exactly the kind of fodder the media must have to keep the story alive as it develops into a world-class PR disaster. I was a student on the GI Bill at Penn State back in the late '40's. Like most others, I was stunned and saddened that this could – and did – happen. But we do not have the full story yet. Let's keep our emotions under control and our comments civil and constructive. A perfect example of this is the comment by TRUTH: it's a low class, smart alec remark.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • cw

      indepvot, are you saying that he was morally wrong to report this to the university? Why?

      November 10, 2011 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. ThinkLessDoMore

    so what option was joe weighting? telling outside sources against.....
    Joe may have bigger issues then not telling on a child abuser...

    November 9, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mort

    A child rapist has been released on $100,000 bail. Any outrage there?

    November 9, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. karnas

    This whole story makes me sick Coach Joe and all the staff should go to jail now....Coach did not do enough and all these former players that defend these pervs should go to jail as well. It makes me sick that these edcators took advantage of there position

    November 9, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • jb

      people with opinions should go to jail? no, that's not fascist or anything.

      November 9, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. karen wharton

    Paterno had a responsibility as a supervisor, a coach, and a campus leader to keep Sandusky from abusing more boys. He was told about the abuse by someone who didn't have any power (a graduate student), and he essentially blew off the graduate student. What was more important, Joe?

    November 9, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • jb

      no power? he ran to a phone and called....his DAD. EVERYONE had the power to call the cops, NOT just JOE! That was my point!

      November 9, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Godblessthechild

    It sickens me to read the facts of Sanduskys actions against children. What is just as sick is that grown men are given every benefit of the doubt while the carnage of there actions lay strone along a 9 to 13 year path. How many and how long before we as a society stand up and defend the children. If 9 boys have ste[ped forward there are 81 who don't have the courage to step up, they are victums after all. It's time we quit listening to these demi-gods of a sport and lean in and listen to the wispers of small children. JoePa has nothing relevant to say and there is no excuse for his actions.

    November 9, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Listen Up

    The Low Lifes all need to be held accountable and imprisoned for life. The children should sue millions upon millions. Thankfully the Low Life coaching staff will ALL be held accountable before God! There will one day be JUSTICE! Amen

    November 9, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Listen Up

    The Low Lifes all need to be held accountable and imprisoned for life. The children should sue millions upon millions. Thankfully the Low Life coaching staff will ALL be held accountable before God! There will one day be JUSTICE! Amen

    November 9, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Vona

    I believe this kind of behavior is rampart in all forms of sports. These predators put themselves in positions where they can work with young kids. And they are charming and friendly. But the culture of sports needs to be addressed – the hazings and the macho image. The need for the parents to have their children succeed so they turn an unconscious blind eye to what is going on. And the children who want to succeed and trust who become the victims. It's a culture that needs to be studied.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Penn student

    You know, I say screw the kids. They were weaklings anyway. Football is more important and Joe is King. Long live Joe!

    November 9, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joe Paterno

    Thanks for the support Penn student.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Denise

    Joe may not have tolerated it, but he also didn't follow up after reporting it to the University. Now he and the Univ. Pres. are out, so I'm sure book deals will be in the works for all. Sad way to see Joe go after such a long career.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
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