Joe Paterno’s birthday is today. He turns 85.
It’s amazing to think that, had it not been for the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, he’d still be coaching Penn State football.
Although Paterno doesn’t face any charges in the Sandusky case, he remains a polarizing figure because of his role in reporting an allegation of sexual abuse by Sandusky in 2002.
Many of Paterno’s former players have shown their support for their head coach, and yesterday, more than 340 of them signed a letter backing Paterno.
It is believed to be the largest organized effort for Paterno since his firing last month.
“As members of the Penn State community, we are deeply saddened by the allegations against Jerry Sandusky, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families,” the letter read. “Given the allegations against Sandusky, we understand the public’s outrage because we share it.
“At the same time, however, it’s important to remember that all of the facts surrounding this troubling matter are not known. Until all of the facts are known and due process has run its course, we ask that the public reserve judgment about Joe Paterno and the Penn State community.”
Hall of Famer Lydell Mitchell, a PSU running back from 1969-71, helped organize the effort.
“He is not aware of (the letter),” Mitchell said Tuesday night in an interview with the Associated Press. “It is so important that he keeps his health up and stays strong … We’re in the fight with him.
“I’m just speaking to coach Paterno’s character. The type of guy he’s been over the years. He didn’t just care from (us) as football players. He cared for us as people. These are the things that really meant so much to me.”