Franco Harris, star running back at Penn State in the late 60’s and early 70’s, was one of the most vocal defenders of Joe Paterno before the Freeh Report was released. It cost him one of his income avenues, as the Meadows Track and Casino dropped him as a spokesman. He continues to be, even after the report’s contents have been made public. In an interview with KXPI, he continued to minimize Paterno’s role.
“After I read the Freeh Report, I feel even more strongly about Joe and about his non-involvement in any type of cover-up. There was no cover up. No way would Joe ever cover-up anything like this. No way would Joe protect Sandusky or protect the football program.”
Harris also says that people have blamed Paterno more than anyone else, and that he has played a “minor role” in the Sandusky affair. “The Board of Trustees has made every bad decision along the way. These decisions, I’d probably say just about every one, have done things to hurt Penn State.”
Yes, it’s the Board of Trustees who has made “every bad decision” in a circumstance where four men, including Paterno, had knowledge of Sandusky’s actions in 1998 and 2001 and did not report anything after the second incident in the shower came to their attention. Come on.
This is different than say, Gary Pinkel’s statements, who says Paterno was a great man but “maybe would have followed up a few things” if he could do it again. Pinkel, and those who share similar sentiments, are trying to separate Paterno from those actions, and seem to think the balancing of the two still leads them to have respect for him. We can disagree on those points, but it is a different point.
Harris is just in flat out denial. He doesn’t see the idiocy of claiming the Board has made every bad decisions while not acknowledging there were actual bad decisions made by those who could have stopped this earlier, including Paterno.
He needs to stop making these public comments. He is emotionally invested, but they merely go to stand as a prime example of the hero worship and minimization. Plenty of people bear blame here. Paterno is one of them, and the only one with a statue on campus.
[photo via US Presswire]