STATE COLLEGE — This may be about as close as we get to finding out how Joe Paterno felt about the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal and how Penn State reacted.
A column Paterno wrote about a month before his death was released to former Nittany Lion players.
The attorneys for Paterno’s family said Paterno himself wrote the column at the end of last year, only a month or so before he died.
It was meant to be published as a guest column in a newspaper, but in the rush of what was playing out then, it never was.
The family did send the column to former players. On Wednesday Paterno’s own words surfaced in the media.
Paterno’s family said these are his words written not long before he died, a column never published, that tried to defend the honor of Penn State in the middle of the scandal.
Part of it says: “Over and over again, I have heard such ignorant comments like Penn State will no longer be a ‘football factory’ and we are going to start focusing on integrity in athletics.”
Paterno wrote little about any role he may have had in the scandal.
He stood up for the many student athletes who played for him saying no school had won more games while graduating more players.
He never mentioned Jerry Sandusky, but Paterno wrote that tying all Penn Staters into the scandal must stop. He wrote this is not a football scandal.
Another part said: “Whatever failings that may have happened at Penn State, whatever conclusions about my or others’ conduct you may wish to draw from a fair view of the allegations, it is inarguable that these actions had nothing to do with this last team or any of the hundreds of prior graduates of the ‘grand experiment.’”
Paterno asked readers to forget his accomplishments in the last 40 years. He said he looks at the achievements of all who played for him, and all who went to Penn State.
Here is another part of the letter: “Penn staters should feel no shame in saying ‘we are Penn State.’ This is a great university with one of the best academic performing football programs in major college athletics.”
Those words echo the last words we ever heard Paterno say on camera. That night he was fired, and said goodnight he said “We are Penn State!”
To read the full letter click here.