Seven-year NFL veteran Michael Robinson said he is just as proud to be a Penn Stater today as he was before the NCAA sanctions. But, that doesn’t mean the reception he’s received around the country has been the same since last July.
“Whenever I’m out and about in the world and people hear you’re from Penn State,” Robinson said, “they just look different and go straight to the Jerry Sandusky thing.”
Robinson, therefore, said he was extremely happy to receive a letter from Sue Paterno on Friday, informing him a statement would be released Sunday morning on behalf of the Paterno family. The wife of the late Joe Paterno sent this message to the letterman’s association to alert them of the looming rebuttal to the claims made in former FBI Investigator Louis Freeh’s findings for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case.
Freeh’s initial report asserted the 46-year head coach was one of four Penn State officials who failed to prevent Sandusky’s crimes. More than seven months later, however, the Paterno family put forth its own investigation — for which family members hired four experts to conduct individual reports — disputing many of Freeh’s conclusions.
After the release of the newest findings, Robinson was one of several Penn State lettermen who said they are pleased to see the response, offering a sign that the accurate story is emerging.
Mickey Shuler Sr., Class of 1978, said as opposed to Freeh’s report that surfaced shortly after Sandusky was found guilty, the Paterno family took the appropriate amount of time to seek the truth.
“I’m glad that they finally had someone look at this thing and follow the evidence and follow the truth to where it leads,” Shuler said. “These things take time. There’s a lot of people’s emotions involved in this.”
The experts leading the most recent investigation presented their thorough argument on ESPN’s weekly program, “Outside The Lines,” Sunday morning, in addition to releasing the 238-page text version online.
Shuler said while the 30-minute episode was not long enough to fully explain their rebuttal, it was enough to demonstrate where the guilt truly lies.
“It’s very insightful, in the sense that it’s kind of showing you it seems nobody was covering anything up except Jerry Sandusky,” Shuler said. “Everybody was duped and everybody was fooled.”
Despite critics of the findings claiming a bias may be present in the report — since the Paterno family hired the legal experts itself — Shuler said these outcries are coming from people forgetting the prestigious backgrounds of each of the experts.
“These [experts] aren’t sticking their reputations on the line to be criticized and not following the truth,” Shuler said. “They obviously understood when they’re taking this task that they’re going to be questioned.”
Meanwhile, Robinson, a quarterback under Paterno from 2002-05, agreed with Shuler’s logic, citing major differences in the organization of the two investigations.
The former Lion said the most blatant shortcoming of the Freeh Report was that its investigators made assumptions prior to finding any concrete evidence.
“With the Freeh Report, they were actually looking to blame Joe,” Robinson said. “There was an intent behind it, as opposed to this. And that’s how it should be. You’re not guilty until you’re proven innocent. You’re innocent until you’re proven guilty.”
Robinson said the Paterno family’s findings reflect a strict pursuit of the truth, while within Freeh’s findings, “it just seemed like someone had a bitter agenda.”
The ultimate outcome of the most recent investigation still remains to be seen, but Shuler said he wouldn’t be surprised if the NCAA became nervous with the findings, having never been faced with this powerful an opposition before.
However, Tony Pittman, Class of 1995, said he hopes the result will be more of a reminder of the positive effect Paterno had on his peers since the day he joined the Lions’ staff in 1950.
“I know some people still believe that the sanctions can be undone or things can be put back in the [history] books, and I also feel it’s so sad [about the sanctions] so that’s understandable,” Pittman said. “But, to me, it is really about the impact he’s made on so many lives. And I can’t say it any other way.”