A group of former Penn State football players are none too pleased with DeAndre Levy.
During a game against Penn State in 2006, the then-Wisconsin linebacker shoved a Nittany Lions player out of bounds and into Joe Paterno, breaking the head coach’s leg in the process. In an interview with Men’s Journal earlier this month, Levy showed his disdain for the stain that is the Jerry Sandusky scandal by referring to Paterno as a “dirtbag” and claiming that the role he played in breaking Paterno’s leg was “his proudest moment in college football.”
In a statement to the Detroit Free Press, 21 players who played under Paterno condemned Levy’s comments, saying in part that his words “speaks to a complete lack of character and moral integrity on the part of Mr. Levy.”
We find the recent statement by DeAndre Levy about Coach Paterno appalling, along with the silence that has accompanied it. To joyfully and proudly take credit for hurting a defenseless human being is sad, in and of itself. But, to couple this gleeful statement with a willful ignorance of the facts and circumstances surrounding our coach speaks to a complete lack of character and moral integrity on the part of Mr. Levy. Mr. Levy’s comments reflect poorly on him, his university, the Detroit Lions and the NFL, and are certainly deserving of vocal condemnation.
Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris, a very ardent and unflinching Paterno supporter, was one of the 21 who signed the statement. The others included Jeff Bergstrom, Jeff Butya, Craig Cirbus, Tom Couch, Tom Donchez, Rudy Glocker, Brian Hand, Christian Marrone, Brian Masella, Bob Mrosko, Greg Murphy, John Nessel, Rick Nichols, Stephen Pitts, Joel Ramich, Mickey Schuler Sr., Brad Scovill, Brandon Short, Ray Tesner and Dan Wallace.
Levy pens a weekly column for the Free Press during the football season. Sunday, the player expounded on his initial comments, but didn’t back down from them.
Any person or institution, Joe Paterno included, that turns away from or fails to act against sexual assault is a “dirtbag.”
Imagine your son, nephew, cousin or young male person in your life goes away to football camp or has a trusted relationship with a coach, but their vulnerability is taken advantage of and their trust violated in an act of sexual assault. Years later, a story breaks and sheds light on a decades-long pattern of sexual abuse. And then it becomes known that one of the most powerful figures in that football program knew of it at various points but failed to act diligently. In broad strokes, that’s how I understand the case of Penn State, Jerry Sandusky and Paterno.
If you’re aware of sexual violence and don’t use the full strength of your power to stop it, you’re just as complicit and responsible. We have to stop prioritizing sport over humanity and the worse things a person can do, including failing to disrupt DECADES of sexual violence.
What if it was your son? Would many of us be so quick and steadfast in defending Paterno’s legacy? What if it was your nephew? Would we be fighting to have his statue resurrected?
You can read the full opinion piece HERE.