Paterno family: Joe ‘did not cover up for Jerry Sandusky’

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Anticipating regarding the Freeh report on Penn State’s “actions” related to child sexual abuse at the hands of Jerry Sandusky hit a new level yesterday when it was announced that the investigation would be released in its entirety on Thursday.

The report, according to Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports, will put all PSU admins involved under a more direct and blinding light, not just former coach Joe Paterno.

No one and nothing escapes responsibility” a source told Wetzel.

Just as the investigation, led by former FBI chief Louis Freeh, is set to be released, the Paterno family has once again issued a statement — and a rather lengthy one at that — regarding the report. Here is that statement in its entirety below:

”Over the last nine months Joe Paterno has been praised by some in near saintly terms and criticized by others as a villain. He was neither.

“As the people who worked closely with Joe know, he was tough, aggressive, opinionated and demanding. He was also highly principled, uncompromisingly ethical, dedicated to his job at Penn State and committed to excellence.

“When the Sandusky case exploded last fall, Joe’s first instincts were to tell everything he knew. He assumed the University would want to hear from him, but he was never given the chance to present his case.

“He planned to hold a press conference, but University officials ordered him to cancel it. And then the various investigations started and the legal process took over. On top of everything else, Joe was diagnosed with lung cancer. Two months later he was gone. The end result is his story has never fully been told.

“As this situation unfolded, Joe cautioned everyone not to jump to conclusions. He believed that a rush to judgment and a disregard for due process would ultimately result in conclusions that would not stand the test of time. To be clear, he did not fear the truth, he sought it. As much as anyone he wanted to know exactly what Jerry Sandusky had done and he wanted to understand how it happened.

“The hiring of the Freeh Group is the single most important action the Board of Trustees has taken. Joe supported this decision with the hope that it would result in a thorough, balanced and thoughtful assessment of the Sandusky tragedy. Unfortunately, recent events have raised questions about the fairness and confidentiality of the investigative process.

“Over the last several weeks there has been a virtual torrent of leaks about the Freeh Group’s work. To be clear, we do not know the source, or sources, of the leaks. What cannot be disputed, however, is that select emails intended to smear Joe Paterno and other former Penn State officials have been released. Testimony from witnesses highly critical of Joe has been revealed. And purported conclusions condemning the culture of the football program have been widely disseminated. The Board promised a fair, transparent and impartial process. These developments are a threat to their stated objectives.

“When these leaks first started we appealed to the Freeh Group, the Board and the Attorney General to condemn the leaks and caution the public that it would be wrong to reach any conclusions from selectively released materials. We then asked that all emails and other documents be released so a full picture of their research could be understood.

“As purported conclusions started leaking out, we followed up with the Freeh Group to ask for the right to respond. Since Joe Paterno never had an opportunity to present his case, we believe we should have a reasonable time to review their findings and offer information that could help complete the picture. We were told we could offer responses to the publicly reported allegations, but the Freeh Group declined to confirm that these allegations are in the final report. It is our firm belief that the report would be stronger and more credible if we were simply given a chance to review the findings concerning Joe Paterno in order to present the case he was never allowed to make.

“Since the outcome of this process appears set in stone, we have no choice but to wait for the report and respond as best we can. Given that the report is estimated to be between 100-150 pages it will understandably take us some time to study it and prepare a comprehensive response.

In advance of the release of the report, there are a few facts we want on the record:

We would still welcome a chance to meet with the Freeh Group to review the findings and offer a response. We do not seek or expect the right to edit the report; but we believe our voice should be reflected in its conclusions.

To this point, Joe Paterno is the only person who publicly acknowledged that with the benefit of hindsight he wished he had done more. This was an honest and courageous admission that a true leader must assume a measure of responsibility when something goes wrong on his watch.

The sad and frightening fact is Jerry Sandusky was a master deceiver. He fooled players, coaches, law enforcement officials, child service professionals, Penn State Board members, University leaders, neighbors, donors, staff and supporters of Second Mile and his family.

With respect to the email from Tim Curley which stated, “After giving it more thought, and talking it over with Joe yesterday – I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps,” the media spin that this is proof of some sort of cover up is completely false. When the facts come out, it will be clear that Joe Paterno never gave Tim Curley any instructions to protect Sandusky or limit any investigation of his actions.

Joe Paterno did not cover up for Jerry Sandusky. Joe Paterno did not know that Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile. Joe Paterno did not act in any way to prevent a proper investigation of Jerry Sandusky. To claim otherwise is a distortion of the truth.

“If he were with us today, we are certain Joe Paterno would say that he wished he had done any number of things differently. We also believe he would make it clear that he was not an investigator, law enforcement officer, child services professional or a member of the Board of Trustees. Joe would accept his responsibility, but he would expect others to step forward as well.”

SEC leads NFL Draft for 11th straight year as Alabama and Michigan set school records

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The 2017 NFL Draft has come and gone, and once again it is the SEC claiming another NFL Draft national championship. A grand total of 53 players from the SEC were drafted by NFL teams. It is the 11th straight year the SEC has had the most players drafted by NFL teams.

The ACC ended the draft with 42 players drafted, followed by the Pac-12 (36) and Big Ten (35). The Big 12 ended the draft with just 14 players drafted.

Helping to contribute to the SEC’s NFL Draft total was Alabama setting a school record with 10 players drafted.

Alabama’s nine players drafted in the first 80 picks was also a new Alabama record.

Michigan ended up having more players drafted than any other Big Ten team, slipping past Ohio State by the time the draft closed up shop this year. For the Wolverines, 11 players ended up being drafted. The previous school record for draft picks was 10, set in 1972 and tied in 1974. Head coach Jim Harbaugh will get plenty of the praise for developing that many players getting a chance to be drafted, but Brady Hoke should be recognized for recruiting those players as well (and blamed for not developing the talent he brought in).

 

Air Force changes rules for football players with NFL aspirations

AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Michael Ciaglo
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One of the top players from Air Force was ineligible to be drafted by the NFL this weekend, and it had nothing to do with NFL rules. It also had nothing to do with NFL teams backing away from a particular player due to off-field concerns. Instead, a policy at Air Force is what is to blame for wide receiver Jalen Robinette not moving on to the NFL at this time.

The U.S. Air Force will not approve requests from academy graduates to defer their two years of active duty in order to be allowed to play professional football. Just a year ago, the Department of Defense changed the policy to allow for the possibility, which made it possible for Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds to be allowed to play. Reynolds later joined the Baltimore Ravens. Reynolds had received a recommendation to be allowed to play by the U.S. Naval Academy.

“The Air Force notified academy leaders [Thursday] that the service would not approve requests to waiver active duty military commitments for cadet athletes,” a statement from Air Force read. “Cadets will be required to serve two years active duty prior to entering Ready Reserve, which would allow their participation in professional sports. The Air Force places tremendous value on our cadet athletes and their contributions to the nation as we continue to build leaders of character, engage in combat operations overseas and continue to ensure our highest military readiness at home.”

Because of the policy change and confirmation, Robinette was not able to be drafted. He may still have been a long shot to be drafted by an NFL Team, but the policy also means he is unable to be signed as an undrafted free agent as well.

Rawleigh Williams carted off at Arkansas scrimmage

AP Photo/Chris Brashers
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Any time a player that has previously undergone neck surgery goes down on the field and needs to be carted off is quite the scary moment. On Saturday, the Arkansas football program had that exact scare when Rawleigh Williams went down on the field in pain and ended up having to be carted off the practice field during the Arkansas scrimmage.

Williams was placed on a stretcher and taken out of the facility on a cart to receive medical attention. His legs and arms were moving on the ground, a slight sigh of relief given the hit and his injury history. In 2015, Williams was carted off and had to undergo surgery on his neck. Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said the injury concern on Saturday was apparently not related to the previous neck injury, which was expected to have a full recovery.

It is an unfortunate ending to the spring for Williams, because all indications seemed to be he was certainly improving running the football. Bielema said earlier in the week Williams was running with more patience, which is always a key for a running back.

Arkansas moved its final scrimmage of the spring indoors due to bad weather rolling through the area.

Justin Herbert shines in first Oregon spring game under Willie Taggart

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A glimpse of a brand new era of Oregon football took center stage in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday as the spring football season drew to a close. Willie Taggart showed fans a little bit of what to expect from Oregon in the fall as the program looks to bounce back from a down season under the coach who has shown a knack for improving programs. As is usually the case in a spring game, Oregon’s quarterback situation was under a microscope, and sophomore Justin Herbert took advantage of the opportunity.

Herbert completed 16 of 26 passes for 327 yards and established a connection with wide receiver Darren Carrington. The two connected for three touchdowns in the game. Sophomore Travis Jonson and early enrollee Braxton Burmeister also saw playing time in the game, but Carrington was confident in saying this is Herbert’s job to lose.

”Our chemistry has definitely improved this spring, and it’ll improve more by the time fall comes, but Herbert, I mean, that’s the guy right now to beat,” Carrington said after the spring game.

As for the team as a whole, Taggert knows there is much still to address as a new system and style are implemented and the roster adjusts physically to the demands of the new coach.

‘We’re still building. We’re nowhere where we need to be as a football team yet. We have some good players. We don’t have a lot of depth that we need to have, that’s going to be a work in progress,” Taggart said. ”The thing for us as coaches is just to make our guys better than they were before. If I guy wasn’t good enough we want to make him look better than he was before. If I guy was good we want to make him great.”

Og course, it wouldn’t be an Oregon spring game without having that typical Oregon uniform flair. Even with a new head coach and with the talk suggesting the Ducks will go for a more traditional approach to uniforms in the fall, the spring game was used for some sizzle on the unis.

Oregon’s spring game crowd of 36,821 assured the Ducks of having the highest spring game attendance among Pac-12 school for a third consecutive year.