DETROIT (97.1 The Ticket) Penn State alum Matt Millen defended Joe Paterno after a report was released Thursday blaming the former coach and other college leaders for failing to alert officials to sex abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky.
“That’s brutal,” Millen said about the report during an ESPN radio interview, adding he only knew Paterno to be a straight shooter who never vacillated about doing what was right.
Millen, former general manager of the Detroit Lions, had a hard time taking in the findings, saying, “The Joe that I knew, for the four years that I was under his rule and then as I knew him years after, Joe, he did not waver on the character, on the integrity, all those things … When I hear that, it’s really hard to take.”
He defended Penn State as having the “most pristine” college football program out there.
Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who was hired by university trustees to look into the scandal, issued a blistering report that squarely blamed the leaders at Penn State for the child abuse.
“Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State,” Freeh wrote. “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”
Saying he was just reading the report for the first time, Millen said the charge that Paterno concealed facts to prevent bad publicity was “hard for me to believe,” adding it’s “completely antithetical” to what Paterno espoused or stood for.
So, does he question the validity of the report?
“At one point, you have to try to believe in something, there has to be something that you hold onto,” Millen said, adding that he had to trust the report. “When this whole thing broke, I said ‘I can’t imagine, the Jerry Sandusky that I knew would never do this, never even dream of it … And he was guilty and his sin found him out. So if that can happen, other things can happen.”
Sandusky is awaiting his prison sentencing after being convicted on 45 criminal counts for abusing 10 boys through his Second Mile charity and through his ties to Penn State, where he molested boys in the locker room and during trips to see the team play.
Paterno’s son Jay Paterno questioned the report, telling CBS radio “There was a commitment to academic and athletic excellence (under Paterno) … The idea that there was some kind of power situation at Penn State, Joe Paterno was the first person to say to us ‘We are part of the university, just part of it.’”