Todd Blackledge certainly knows what it means to be a part of the Penn State family. The former quarterback was a three-year starter who led the Nittany Lions to a national championship in 1982. Like everyone else, the current ESPN analyst has been stunned by this news and says, while he doesn’t believe Jerry Sandusky is evil, that the things that occurred were.
Todd Blackledge joined 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia with Mike Missanelli to discuss Joe Paterno’s firing, if he agrees with the decision, if he thinks the people responsible for cover ups were trying to protect the image of Happy Valley more than anything else, if he gets the sense Joe Paterno was complicit in this, how Penn State handled the firing, and working with Jerry Sandusky and the Second Mile foundation.
Do you agree that Joe Paterno should have been let go?
“Yeah, I do. I mean, you could see it coming. I wasn’t sure it would happen as quickly as it did, if the board would be able to pull itself together and get everything in line that they needed to. I didn’t know if he would coach this week or not, but at the end of the day, I agree it was a decision that needed to be made.”
Do you view this as people looking to protect the program and image more than they were protecting the welfare of other people?
“I guess so. Again, I don’t have all the answers right now, I don’t know all the details, but what I’ve seen, that’s kind of what you’re led to believe. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of sadness that I feel on a lot of different levels in this story. But my greatness sadness and feelings are, I’m a father of four boys. The people that were victims in this, over a long period of time, that’s the most tragic thing. … The idea that they were children then, but several of them are adults now that have lived with this for years and years. … The fact that that was not stopped, that it was not properly reported … there’s no reason that explains it or is good enough.”
How deeply do you think Joe Paterno was complicit in all of this?
“I don’t know. I can’t answer that question. My hunch would be, and maybe it’s because I have such strong feelings and a fondness for him, my hunch would be that I don’t see him as being complicit. I do see him as that he could have done something different and done something more and should have, and didn’t.”
Do you have a problem with the way Penn State handled the firing?
“There’s no pretty way to do it. There was no happy ending here. So, however it happened was not going to be a great situation.”
Could you have ever foreseen all of this with Jerry Sandusky?
“No, not at all. I had a lot of respect for Jerry, first as a coach. And I had a lot of respect for him as a person, I thought, that was really committed and passionate about helping kids. I got involved with the Second Mile while I was still a student-athlete at Penn State and have continued to be a supporter and involved with the Second Mile ever since. I would have never, ever guessed that and was totally shocked by the allegations and what came out in the grand jury report. I read the whole thing and it was a sickening thing to read. … To me, that’s evil. I’m not saying that Jerry Sandusky is evil, but what took place was evil.”